A thank you letter from: Kevin and Mary Griswold

Dear Bryan,

It is with great respect that we write this letter of thanks to you and the Diablo Valley Flag Brigade for making our daughter’s return from service in Afghanistan as one that will always be remembered with love.

Six-days have passed since Katy’s homecoming celebration and we are still talking about the event with smiles on our faces and, at times, tears of joy. We had so much fun providing you with the information that you needed for your behind-the-scenes preparation and at the same time, nervousness, as we tried to keep the plans secret from Katy.

The anticipation and excitement continued to build as we awaited the arrival of the motorcycle group at BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse in Brentwood. Katy’s back was to the front door as they entered the restaurant. Someone in the lead yelled out, “Where’s my Marine?” At that moment, her eyes widened to the size of saucers. She looked directly at her father and said, “Really, Dad?” She turned around in her seat to see a group of military service veterans coming her way. She was greeted with hugs, kisses and welcome homes. The excitement was palpable. When the restaurant patrons realized just what was going on, they greeted Katy with cheers and applause to welcome her home.

The veterans escorted Katy to her “ride” home, which turned out to be a Harley-Davidson motorcycle decked out with full-sized flags. There was a full-brigade consisting of military service veterans in leathers wearing red, white & blue bandanas, and motorcycle after motorcycle (with loud, loud engines!) regaled with military and American flags. The procession was led by the local fire engine with sirens blaring and lights flashing! What could possibly have been better?!!! This was just the beginning of what would turn out to be an amazing day for Katy.

As Katy and her escorts approached our home, she was met by a crowd of neighbors, friends, family and local patriots waving flags and cheering her arrival, and where more hugs, kisses and welcome homes were shared. Our street was

lined with American flags and our home had been transformed – draped in a huge American flag and banners while patriotic music played through large speakers. To start off the festivities, a local, talented young lady sang a beautiful rendition of The National Anthem. It was quite an emotional scene – bringing so many to tears.

What came next was so heartwarming. Katy was recognized for her military service along with her father, brother and uncle – all U.S. Marines! For the first time, Katy’s Uncle Steve was shown the love and appreciation he deserved after his return from service in Vietnam so many years ago. Recognition was given to Katy’s other relatives who served this great nation – some have passed on and others weren’t able to attend the event. Katy is 1 of 9 relatives in 3-generations to serve our great Country.

Besides all the hugs, kisses and hand-shaking, our veterans were recognized with speeches and proclamations from local and state government representatives and challenge coins were presented by veterans representing local military organizations. To memorialize the day’s events, a video montage was set to music and posted to the Diablo Valley Flag Brigade’s website. We’ve already watched it several times and it has the same impact each time – we are reduced to puddles J

As history has shown, the longer a war is drawn out, the more the original mission has of being forgotten by the general public and opposition to the war effort grows. Our Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors and Marines continue to serve without question and they deserve no less than our continued support. Of course, if you ask a veteran, they will tell you that they did not volunteer for the recognition or glory, but how they are treated upon their return to Country sure makes a difference in how they recover from their experiences after multiple deployments, in many cases. This is where Diablo Valley Flag Brigade fills the gap. They are a shining example of the human spirit at its very best.

March 9, 2013, is a day that we will never forget; thanks to you and Diablo Valley Flag Brigade. Please extend our sincere appreciation to the many organizations that worked together to ceremoniously welcome our daughter, Katy, home. We will never forget.

Kevin and Mary Griswold