The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave

Kristina Stafford
Chris Stinson, right, is pictured in?Afghanistan. His mother, Vicky, has begun a program which aims to gather much needed items for the men and women fighting overseas.
Photo provided

“If tomorrow all the things were gone, I’d worked for all my life, and I had to start again, with just my children and my wife. I’d thank my lucky stars, to be living here today, ‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom and they can’t take that away.”

-God Bless the U.S.A.

These words, even though we sing them without thinking sometimes, have a powerful meaning that we should all meditate on in this time of remembrance. Just as we should reflect on the terrible losses of Sept. 11, 2001, we should also reflect on the sacrifices that our military have made to protect our nation, especially those within our own community, who are working to ensure our freedoms everyday.

Chris Stinson is a member of the army and he graduated from East Ascension in 2008. His junior year of high school, Stinson joined the army reserves. It was there that he realized his love for the army, and at 21 he went into active duty. Stinson is currently deployed in Iraq.

His mother, Vicky Stinson, is a proud mother, to put it mildly. As she diligently works to help her son and his fellow army buddies, Vicky Stinson beams positive energy, and is grateful for every shred of help that is offered to her. In the short time I met with her, she rose my spirits, and helped me understand the sacrifice that these brave men and women give for our freedoms.

“I realize they are in the army and they chose this life, and most of them would not mind going without these items, but I think of it as ‘let me send something to help out and do my part,” Vicky Stinson explained.

With all of these needs in mind, Vicky Stinson set out to start a movement in Gonzales. She is asking for members of the community to join in, and support her son’s troop as well as other military units overseas.

“I would like Gonzales as a community to stop and remember there are still soldiers over there fighting for our freedoms. We have a list of freedoms as American citizens that we take for granted every day, and there are people overseas still fighting for those freedoms -- just don’t take it for granted.”

“I started the ‘Adopt-a-Troop’ initiative because it gives me a since of helping. I was feeling so helpless before,” Vicky Stinson said of her new endeavor of getting people to “adopt-the-troops” overseas. “The best thing you can do for a soldier is to let them know you haven’t forgotten them at home.” Vicky Stinson continued.

Stinson just recently began to recruit people to adopt-a-unit overseas. After shopping for her son and other members of his unit, Stinson realized that she could not alone bear the burden of sending care packages. “It adds up!” she jokingly replied when I asked her what types of things she has been sending so far. She then replied:

“Water bottles, fly swatters, sticky fly strips, hair clippers, smell good lotion, workout clothing, DVD’s, snacks, books, movies, used ipods, workout supplements, letters, personal hygiene products. There are 16 females and 62 males, and I am sure that each and every one of them would appreciate anything you send, really.”

Gonzales’ Mayor, Barney Arceneaux, is a supporter of all that Stinson is trying to achieve. When asked of his role in the initiative, Arceneaux replied:

“I am so excited to be a part of and support this program. I think its wonderful when we can come together as a community and assist one of our own brave soldiers, and those who work alongside him, for the benefit of all of us at home.”

Gonzales Chief of Police, Sherman Jackson, is also keen to show his support for the “Adopt-the-Troops” program. Jackson commented that he is excited about the participation in the community, and hopes that people will continue to join the forces as we try to support our boys overseas.

“Mrs. Stinson came to me about adopting her son’s unit. I spoke to the Mayor and we were more than happy to assist. A lot of people forget that a large number of men and women are still out there everyday fighting for all of us and the freedoms we believe in. What Mrs. Stinson is doing is wonderful. She’s helping us all put a personal touch on the image of the American soldier. We must never forget to continue to support them.”

Mrs. Stinson’s message is also being carried through within one of our own area schools. East Ascension High School will be doing their part tomorrow, Sept. 9 from 10:20 p.m. until 11:20 p.m., as they teach their Seniors a lesson about remembering those who serve for them.

“We have a program on campus called SPEAR in which we mentor our students,” said Jamie Andrews, History teacher at East Ascension High School, “and we will do a SPEAR lesson pertaining to the history of the 9/11 attacks and their impact.  We will focus on how our nation has become one of disconnect and we will prod our student body to get involved, with the adoption of a Chris Stinson’s company.”

The  event will feature two East Ascension alumni who have previously served in Iraq, as well as many other important guests, and will only be for East Ascension Seniors. A slide show presentation containing a powerful message about the 9/11 attacks will also be viewed. 

“Mrs. Stinson [Chris Stinson’s mother] approached us this summer about adopting her son’s company. Chris is an alum of EA and we were happy to join her crusade. We decided also since this was the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that we would incorporate it all together,” Andrews continued.

The importance of remembering is paramount during this anniversary. Many of our own are serving overseas, and the Stinson story is only one of a number of them. As 9/11 looms, let us all remember to say thank you.

For more information on the “Adopt-a-Troop” initiative or to donate, call Vicky Stinson at 247-8521 or e-mail her at rvstinson@eatel.net.