Last month I received an invitation from President Obama to attend the French Arrival Ceremony in regards to the national volunteer work that I do for the American Red Cross. This week I attended the ceremony with my wife Pamela, and it was a very memorable experience from beginning to end.
In attendance there were over 100 members of the military from every branch, every state and every background. They represented to the fullest degree with every movement being in perfect coordination.
Also in attendance were World War II vets who were involved in the Normandy invasion on D-Day. As I stood there listening to President Obama speak about the lasting connection that the United States has with France, I thought about these brave veterans who served in the war.
I thought about my grandfather, William Boyle, a Marine who served in the Pacific theatre in World War II and how he was the youngest person to enlist in the war from his town of Irwin, Pennsylvania. I thought about my grandfather, Joe Lineberger, who received the Bronze Star in Vietnam and spanned a career serving our country for over 64 years.
Throughout the ceremony, as I stood there on the south lawn, I reflected on the moment. My mind raced back to all the stories that my grandfathers shared with me, the U.S. history classes I took, all the textbooks, Patriotic images and history projects I worked on in school. I stared at the White House and truly felt the history of our great nation, and how we owe it to those who have sacrificed so much to make the grass that I was standing on, the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.
Although my medical background has kept me from joining the military, I proudly serve my country with my volunteer work with the American Red Cross. As the National Volunteer Spokesman and 2012 White House Champion of Change award recipient, I thought the best way to commemorate my visit to the White House was to stop by the Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington D.C. and donate blood for the ninth time.
Thanks again President Obama for the invitation to attend the ceremony. I was proud to represent the Red Cross at the White House, and I'm proud to be an American.