I remember the draft.
I remember the long list of names in the weekly newspapers.
I remember the casualty and death counts at the end of the daily 6:00 news.
Many were 18-20 years old.
When their tour was up, they were told to shed their uniforms as quickly as possible and once they donned civvies, to never go outside in their uniform again. They were told to let their hair grow out as quickly as possible. They were told to expect people to yell vile things at them, to hurl harmful objects at them, to spit on them.
I know people who experienced all of those things.
My father-in-law graduated from Georgia Tech two weeks early, the ceremony moved up to accommodate World War II. “We went up on one side of the platform,” he told me, “to receive our diploma, then off on the other side to receive our orders.” Most of young men went straight from graduation to the altar to get married, then shipped out that afternoon.
Today is the day dedicated to thanking veterans for their service.
It’s something many of us do on this one day a year or maybe when we see a man or woman in uniform at the airport, but it’s something my daughter, Alison, does every chance she gets. She started years ago, performing as Betty Grable at World War II events. She puts her hair up in curls, dons stockings with seams up the back, coats her lips in truly red lipstick, and sings. When she walks in, decades fall off the faces of the WW2 vets. They smile bigger and stand straighter as they are mentally whisked back to the 1940s when they were 18 to 20 years old. Many of them are in their nineties now, but they still know how to appreciate a pretty woman. And when Alison (a.k.a. Betty) plants a red hot kiss on them, they don’t shave for at least two weeks. Some of them devilishly turn their head at the last minute so she winds up kissing them on the lips instead of on the cheek.
Alison formed a trio called The Freedom Belles not too long ago, and they have a repertoire that spans decades. Recognizing the importance of music in our culture and history, The Freedom Belles are dedicated to celebrating the past and keeping history alive in 3-part harmony.
They perform at corporate and special events, heritage re-enactment events, patriotic events, memorial services, and air shows, and while most are able to pay them, many smaller community events and VA hospitals are not. These women love what they do and are enthusiastically and wholeheartedly dedicated to their mission. They want to say Yes and honor veterans every chance they get, regardless of compensation. But the reality is that even when they donate their time and talent, there are still fixed, out-of-pocket expenses like travel, room and board, and music.
That’s where you come in.
Today Alison launched a Go Fund Me page to help raise money to continue their mission and help them say Yes more often, and they could sure use your help. Besides the usual and customary business expenses like business cards, postage, banking fees, and office supplies, they have travel and wardrobe expenses, (those seamed stockings aren’t cheap!), music expenses (royalties, arrangers, and background tracks, for example), and they’d like to hire an attorney to help them set up a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation that will allow them to accept tax-deductible donations on an ongoing basis – contributions that will be ear-marked for non-paying events to honor veterans.
They want to become self-sufficient, and to create products to sell would help fill their coffers, but there are costs there, too. They want to record albums, and that requires paying for studio time, music rights, mixing, designing labels, and who knows what else. They have plans to sell their own line of lipstick, to create yearly calendars, to have t-shirts made. They have other ideas that are wildly fun and creative . . . and require start-up capital.
The Freedom Belles performing at Candler Field Museum’s Vintage Day
(Yes, that’s really Alison, performing a little over 2 months after her surgery.)
Won’t you help them continue to honor and entertain America’s veterans by making a donation? If you’d like to make a donation as a gift, all you have to do is make your donation then send an email to BookFreedomBelles (at) gmail (dot) com), and they’ll see that the recipient is notified or, if you want to wrap and deliver it yourself, they’ll send the gift card to you.
And maybe you’d be willing to help spread the word about their fundraising page by telling friends and family and posting on your social media sites? You can find their fundraising page at www.GoFundMe.com/TheFreedomBelles.
Do you know somebody who has an event coming up that might be looking for entertainers? If so, please pass Alison’s contact information along or get in touch with Alison so she can contact them.
Visit their fundraising page to see more photos and watch short videos of The Freedom Belles in action.
It’s not about whether you’re against wars or not – nay, this far transcends that. This is about paying tribute and expressing appreciation to the individual men and women who served – whether it was their idea or not – to protect us and preserve our freedom. There are so many ways to help these energetic, talented, dedicated young women, and all are greatly, hugely, enormously appreciated.