More than 40 lawmakers and hundreds of staffers joined the United Service Organizations Tuesday to put together care packages for troops in Afghanistan and to commemorate the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"It's important for troops, for their morale. It shows them that people back home are remembering them, especially on this day, that we really appreciate everything they do for us and the sacrifices they're making," said Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio, who went through the assembly line at least 10 times.
Each of the packages assembled Tuesday, which will be delivered to Afghanistan, included a special thank you card signed by the chairs of the USO Caucus, Reps. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., and Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas. Miller himself hand-packed at least 25 packages, aided in his efforts by Reps. Gene Green, D-Texas, Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, Ken Calvert, R-Calif., Jack Kingston, R-Ga., Brad Miller, D-N.C., and Martha Roby, R-Ala., among others. Sens. Harry Reid, D-Nev. and Jack Reed, D-R.I., also put together packages for the troops.
Members of Congress were also asked to sign a flag that will be sent to the USO office in Kandahar.
"I've talked to soldiers -- when they get these packages, it's uplifting for them," said Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa, adding that "They just appreciate that people take time out of their lives to show them their appreciation for their sacrifice. It's just so typically American."
Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Calif., had a particular soldier in his heart when he assembled a care package.
"There's a Marine in the Southern provinces that's serving in the country right now that's, let's just say, very close to my youngest daughter. If this somehow in a symbolic way is sending a care package to Kirk, then be it one Marine, one soldier or one sailor, symbolically this is going to my daughter's sweetheart."