Driving through town we spotted an RV with an interesting sign “Willie Taylor Walking Across America to Honor Veterans & Support Our Troops.” We pulled into Aldi’s and I whipped out my phone to go online and check out who Willie Taylor was. (Hey! This is 2010!)
I found several links to news articles using Google <gasp> and was reading aloud some of the information when Willie himself came over to the car to chat. Soon we were outside talking about his story and mission (see below) and meeting several local people in the music business with their own stories to tell.
Buddy Brock, the songwriter, was there. He had been with them at the Aaron Tippin concert last night. Michael “Huff Daddy” Huffington and his wife Penny were taking Willie Taylor and his driver (former Marine) George Petrovich in grocery shopping to help continue his mission of raising awareness of Veterans, the American Legion, and the U.S.O.
Michael Huffington has written songs for veterans including Boys of ’44 (a tribute to the Army) and Guys Like You and Me (a tribute to Marines). We huddled around Buddy Brock’s truck and I watched grown men sharing music, a memory, and a few tears as they recalled buddies who didn’t come home from war.
I think one of the most fascinating parts of this chance encounter was listening to Willie describe how he is collecting stories of real American heroes as he journeys across the country. If you happen to see George driving Willie’s RV, take time to leaf through his journal and you will see the message many others and I wrote inside. Here’s Willie’s message:
Walk Across America
Willie A. Taylor, an American Legion member recently accepted the challenge to ‘Walk Across America’ in support of our veterans and troops. His ultimate goal is to raise public awareness and support for the USO and the American Legion.
On April 3, 2010 Willie began a year long Walk Across America, starting in his hometown of Maple Rapids, Michigan, and making stops at various American Legion Posts. During his visits, he is documenting the service of any willing Veteran whom he meets to capture the stories of our real American heroes.
In times of peace and war, the USO has consistently delivered its special brand of comfort, morale, and recreational services to the military. Since 1919, The American Legion has an outstanding record of supporting our Nation’s Veterans with programs and activities from the local community grass roots to the national level. Both non-profit organizations rely heavily on the generosity of individuals and local businesses to support their activities.
How can YOU Support this Mission?
To share in this effort and show support for our Veterans and for all our service men and women in the armed forces, your help is needed to make this project a success.
- Go to the USO or American Legion websites and make donations
- Help defray Willie’s cost with cash, gas cards, meals, etc. when he strolls into town
- Spread the word regarding this worthy cause and join Willie for portions of his walk.
I hope that as you recognized and remembered Veteran’s Day last week that you enabled and exposed your students to real heroes and their stories. There are so many men and women who did not make it home or who have returned as Wounded Warriors. We need to keep their stories fresh and alive for the next generation. As the Wounded Warriors Project states “The Greatest Casualty Is Being Forgotten.”