NEW YORK — Nov. 10, 2008 — During this year’s Veterans Day weekend, Nov. 7–9, Microsoft Corp. partnered with the United Service Organizations (USO) to recognize and thank the military community by hosting the second annual A Salute to Our Troops through a celebrity- and activity-filled New York City weekend. A Salute to Our Troops (http://www.salutetoourtroops.org/) is a national program honoring the courage and inspiration of individuals who demonstrate selfless dedication to our country. The program seeks to inspire others to action and show unified support for our service men and women as well as their families.
Twenty-five wounded warriors hailing from across the country but currently stationed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, National Naval Medical Center and the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio took part in a special New York City weekend. Staff Sgt. Charles Eggleston of Richmond, Va., a 16-year U.S. Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient, summed up the weekend, saying, “It means a lot when Americans stop to thank those who served and those who are still in harm’s way. Microsoft and the USO really rolled out the red carpet for us this weekend and we appreciate being able to enjoy downtime and see a great city.”
“The troops deserved this special weekend, because they and the USO volunteers who serve them exemplify leadership, duty and discipline,” said Curt Kolcun, vice president of Microsoft U.S. Public Sector. “A Salute to Our Troops is our way of giving back by recognizing their sacrifices and honoring their efforts with some exciting New York moments.”
Upon arrival on Friday, the group of warriors received a star-studded welcome reception at the Hard Rock Café in Times Square, where they enjoyed the latest games on the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system, playing “Guitar Hero” with celebrities such as Carmen Electra and listening to music on Zune digital music players with Nashville recording artist Stephen Cochran, FOX Network NFL broadcaster James Brown, Miss Teen USA 2008 Stevi Perry, and Discovery Channel show “Cash Cab’s” Ben Bailey. Saturday morning began with a U.S. Coast Guard tour of New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty, where the troops posed in front of “Lady Liberty” with Carmen Electra, American Idol finalist Constantine Maroulis, Stephen Cochran, and then visited Ground Zero with Lt. General Peter Chiarelli, special assistant to the Commander of the U.S. Central Command, to pay their respects to those who perished in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Saturday evening, the troops, their families and senior military officers, including U.S. Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Lt. Gen Peter Chiarelli, special assistant to the Commander of the U.S. Central Command, were treated to a private reception at the American Museum of Natural History, where they were serenaded by Tenor Roberto Iarussi (http://www.robertoiarussi.com/), one of the generation’s most promising operatic tenors. Guests also enjoyed a surprise performance by Stephen Cochran, (http://www.stephencochran.com/), a Nashville recording artist and Marine veteran of both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
Keeping with the USO tradition of entertaining the troops, on Sunday morning, Microsoft treated 5,000 troops to a private showing of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, giving them a chance to witness a unique New York holiday experience with their families.
This holiday season, to ensure that troops around the globe are able to experience the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, the show will be rebroadcast on the Pentagon Channel (domestic) and the American Forces Network. The broadcasts dates include Dec. 17, 23, 24 and 25 on the Pentagon Channel; and Nov. 29, Dec. 6, 14, and 25 on the American Forces Network. Times vary for each broadcast.
A Salute to Our Troops also offers the opportunity for Americans to salute a USO volunteer or thank someone in the military for their service through the sharing of online stories in the A Salute to Our Troops community at http://www.salutetoourtroops.org.
Photos from the weekend can be found at the salute site or at http://www.gettyimages.com.
About the Radio City Christmas Spectacular
The Radio City Christmas Spectacular creates memories to last a lifetime for more than one million patrons each year and has been seen by approximately 65 million people since its inception in 1933. The 2008 edition of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular is the biggest New York holiday experience ever coming fresh off the show’s enormously successful 75th celebration. This year the Radio City Christmas Spectacular will be the biggest production ever.
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