November 2, 2011
The fictional world of Tree Hill is the first time I heard the term “USO.” Peyton Sawyer put on a USO concert for her half-brother Derek, a member of the Marine Corps. Beyond the land of the CW, or during reruns on Soapnet, I never had much connection to USO events and their importance to our community. That will soon change.
On Saturday, November 5th the Duke Energy Center will host Cincinnati’s 8th annual USO Gala and the money raised from this event goes to fund critical programs and services that USO-Metro provides to recovering service men and women and their families. In the past eight years, the Cincinnati event has raised over 2.7 million for the United Service Organization, making it the largest supporter of USO-Metro outside of Washington DC.
*iSPYCINCY spoke with two local servicemen to learn about their experience and discover what the USO gala means to them.
Nate Davis is a veteran who served four years in the Marine Corps. During that time he spent 11 months in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2009 he started at Xavier University as a police officer and a student, and in January of 2011, he was hired as director of the Veterans Affairs Office.
Q: For those unfamiliar, how would you describe a USO event and how exactly does it benefit war veterans?
Davis: The USO event raises funds to support the services that USO Metro provides to active-duty military and their families. The USO event is also a major show of support from the city of Cincinnati, to current service-members as well as military veterans. This event is of great benefit to war veterans because it is an intentional effort to show that the sacrifices they have made for our country are greatly appreciated.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about the upcoming event?
Davis: I’m looking forward to seeing the happiness on the faces of the veterans that will be in attendance. I’m also excited to see veterans meet other veterans and other young professionals from Cincinnati. The camaraderie that will be in the atmosphere at the event will make this an unforgettable night for me.
Q: Any other thoughts…
Davis: I am very proud of Xavier University for sponsoring the “Support Your Troops” event. It is an honor for me to be at a university that has made it a priority to proudly serve those who have served. We want veterans in Cincinnati to know that we appreciate their sacrifices to our country.
Nathan Pelletier, originally from Maryland, is a graduate of West Point Academy. He had two tours of duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, but after sustaining multiple back injuries he was medically discharged from the Army in 2009. Since then he joined Proctor & Gamble as an Assistant Brand Manager and leads the Warriors, a P & G recruiting team that actively recruits Military Veterans.
Q: This is the 8th annual USO event in Cincinnati. How many have you attended and what makes this event particularly unique as compared to others?
Pelletier: This will be the first event I’ve attended in my 2.5 years as a Cincinnati resident. All of these events are special because we honor troops who have sacrificed so much for our country. The Cincinnati USO chapter is considered to be one of the most influential and successful chapters in the U.S. This event is unique because not only is it the 10th anniversary of 9/11, but also we are the first city selected out of six that will be chosen for the World Trade Center flag to visit.
Q: You are helping to escort the National 9/11 flag to the USO tribute event, can you talk a little bit about what that means?
Pelletier: I’m not officially assigned to escort the flag, but I am working with a small team to coordinate its journey and protection while in Cincinnati. The flag means a lot. The flag is not just representative of 9/11, of fire fighters, police men, and/or our military. It represents the resolve all Americans can show when we come together as one Nation, as Leaders of Character to overcome our biggest challenges. That day we put aside our personal problems and objectives, our political differences, and came together as one Nation. This will have an incredible impact on our own community as I hope the personal meaning I just described can be a catalyst to help us overcome our own challenges here in Cincinnati. As community leaders, elected leaders, business leaders, etc. focus less on things that make us different, and more on the things that make us the same, we can then work together to overcome the challenges in our city that will help us create a better Cincinnati now and for the next generation. I believe my service to this country doesn’t end just because I’ve hung up my combat boots for business casual clothes in a corporate job. It’s part of who I am, it’s my duty and obligation to serve. The opportunity I have to be part of honoring the WTC flag while it visits Cincinnati is incredibly humbling. I just hope that I can help use this event to inspire our city to be its best.
Nathan at the Paralympics Games
Q: Any final thoughts…
Pelletier: God Bless America.
Since the tragic attacks on September 11, 2001 our nation has been waging multiple wars overseas. Sometimes, even without our knowledge, military men and women are fighting in undercover operations to protect our freedoms here at home. Last weekend we dressed up like superheroes in the spirit of Halloween, this weekend I challenge you to support the real heroes of our country.
*For more information on the USO Tribute Gala please click HERE. Additionally, there will be a “Support Your Troops” After-party from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Duke Convention Center for the YPs. Click HERE for more details.to top ↑