Carolyn Bradshaw

I hope that someday the people of Iraq will celebrate their independence with as much pride as we do in America. Afghanistan, too.

American soldiers and patriots in Iraq and Afghanistan are risking their lives for the cause of freedom, security and a better way of life. If they are successful, like us, millions of people will celebrate their independence for many years to come.

The outcome, however, is in no way assured. As Major Oliver H. Dunham USMC recently wrote from Iraq, "there is still a fight here but we are making progress." Want to help? You can have a significant impact on the success in Iraq and Afghanistan by joining the Spirit of America organization.

Spirit of America founder and Los Angeles businessman, Jim Hake, was inspired by U.S. Special Forces soldier Jay Smith who asked his wife to send baseball gloves to two boys working in the military kitchen in Afghanistan. Soon more baseball equipment arrived and in a few weeks the local children had a team and were playing baseball regularly.

This activity improved the Afghan villager's quality of life and relations with American forces. As one of the players named Nazim said, "I like to be a player, not a fighter." It was a small need with a big impact.

By matching money and material to specific programs, Spirit of America is making a difference in people's lives, soldier relations and perceptions about America by providing non-military, humanitarian assistance with efficiency and speed in response to requests initiated by our troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Spirit of America has purchased TV equipment for Iraqi owned stations, industrial sewing machines to help empower Iraqi women (950 more are needed), school supplies (an American-Iraqi schools program is underway), tools for village tradesmen, dental kits, musical instruments and toys and clothes for village children including those in orphanages.

Requests are from all branches of the services including the First Marine Expeditionary Force, U.S. Army Special Forces, SeaBees and an Air Force Chaplain. Recently, a new soldier request for sandals was added.

In addition to soldier requests, there are now three areas of strategic focus for Spirit of America that the U.S. military and the Iraqis are most excited:

They are economic development programs, youth programs and media and information projects such as training and equipment for Iraqi owned and operated TV and radio stations.

Upon his recent return from Iraq, Jim Hake wrote "(1) there is hope for Iraq, (2) the support of the American people can make a critical difference to the Iraqi people and their future, and (3) our job at the Spirit of America is to help the American people make that difference."

Spirit of America is providing ways to give support that makes a difference. Spirit of America has my support," said U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona.

To help our soldiers and the patriots who are working hard to rebuild a free Iraq and Afghanistan, make a tax- deductible donation to the non-partisan, volunteer Spirit of America organization at www.spiritofamerica.net or call 1-800-691-2209 or Carolyn Bradshaw at 928-771-9777.

(Editor's Note: Carolyn Bradshaw is a Spirit of America Arizona Volunteer and is based in Prescott.

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