Vets honor military personnel who can’t come home for the holidays

Operation Evergreen is on displace at the LZ Peace Memorial in Rockford.
Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 6:02 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - With roughly 750 United States military bases, spread across 80 nations, a lot of people serving won’t be able to make it back home for the holidays. This time of year can be fun for a lot of Americans. Meals with the family, gifts around the Christmas tree, and hot coco. However, many members of our military will work and stand watch, so we can enjoy those freedoms.

“Any time it snows I’m happy, because you know being away from it, was kind of sad,” said Nick Parnello, President of the Vietnam Veterans Honor Society at the LZ Peace Memorial.

Parnello knows firsthand how hard it is to be deployed during the holidays far free loved ones.

“When I got to the United States again, I kissed the ground, it was like, oh god, just the greatest reunion and the greatest joy,” he told 23 News.

Thats why every year, members of the Vietnam Veterans Honor Society host a gathering at the LZ Peace Memorial in honor of those on duty over the holidays. They light the evergreen tree they’ve had there for over 8 years, sharing stories over coffee and donuts.

“In our small way we just want to have this tree lit up for them, to remember their service,” Parnello said.

It’s a personal mission for Society Chaplain Scott Hale. He showed up to honor his son, Jason.

“He has been to Iraq and Afghanistan, in fact while in Afghanistan a lot of his buddies and friends were wounded and lost arms and legs,” he said.

Although Jason is no longer in the Middle East, he is stationed in Michigan, and can’t come home for a while.

“We know that soldiers and friends, they’re brothers, we love each other,” Hale said. “We serve and do what’s proper and right for the respect of our nation.”

Even though it’s another holiday without his son, Hale often thinks of and prays for Jason and the other troops serving alongside him.

“They’ve had to leave home, leave the good things that are behind and be at a place that’s not easy to be. So we’re praying and thinking of them all today,” said Hale.

The Military Family Advisory Network offers help with transportation, toys and meals, to Americans with a loved one on active duty. If you would like to get involved, here is a link to the website.

At the bottom of the Evergreen tree sits a green light, kept on throughout the year, to honor those who gave their lives for this country.