Holiday tribute highlights veterans' organizations

Colonel James Tierney, of the famed "Fighting 69th" Army Regiment and others including Wolfhounds Rosie and Ivy lead the Regimental Toast to all US troops serving worldwide. Photos credit: Miguel Leonardo
Colonel James Tierney, of the famed "Fighting 69th" Army Regiment and others including Wolfhounds Rosie and Ivy lead the Regimental Toast to all US troops serving worldwide. Photos credit: Miguel Leonardo

Holiday tribute highlights veterans' organizations

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Japan

On a cold mid-December evening in Washington, D.C., a group gathers at a club near the Capitol building. Inside, festive holiday music fills the air. Christmas trees are decorated with vibrant ornaments, and one can’t help but get into the spirit of the season. While it may seem like an ordinary holiday party, this event is the brainchild of the event organizer and consultant Kirsten Fedewa and holds a special place as it honors brave servicemembers and highlights the extraordinary work of various organizations that support U.S. veterans.

Fedewa is no stranger to helping organize events for and with the military community. She has showcased the story of the Fighting 69th Infantry Regiment, who have fought in every major conflict since the Civil War and are still active. Fedewa has also helped raise the profile and awareness of non-profit groups such as No One Left Behind, advocating for the special immigrant visa (SIV) program for Iraqi and Afghan interpreters who worked with the military.

In 2009, Fedewa began working closely with renowned Irish tenor Anthony Kearns. As an homage to the holidays, they held their first tribute that December. To help bring awareness and shine a light on the military community, Fedewa and Kearns began incorporating the military aspect into the event. “We started adding a military component to reflect our gratitude to the American men and women who protect us and our freedoms, especially during the holiday season and year-round,” she says. To date, they’ve organized more than a dozen events.

The Holiday Tribute and Songs of the Season include not only the jolly festivities and incredible musical stylings by Kearns but also moments of somber reflection. Keynote speakers from Congress and retired military members highlight the service and sacrifices made. The event also highlights different organizations and associations supporting the military community and their families. “We give a platform to share stories that help people know more about those who have fought for our freedoms and the non-profit organizations that serve and support our soldiers,” says Fedewa.

This year, the two organizations chosen were the Special Operations Association of America (SOAA) and American Humane. SOAA champions different causes of those who served in various Special Operations fields, including lobbying for better access to medical care for women combat operators. American Humane is one of the nation’s oldest humane societies and began working with the military in World War I. These days, they assist with the American working military dog reunification program. They also have a Pups for Patriots program, which allows trained pups to help veterans heal from the hidden scars of post-traumatic stress disorder.

For Fedewa and her team, “The idea for the Holiday Tribute and Songs of the season event is to inspire, educate and celebrate.” It’s clear she has accomplished that goal.

Jax Scott, Board Member and featured speaker, with Daniel Elkins, founder of SOAA

Kevin Corke, White House Correspondent of Fox News, and Captain Adam Chamie, U.S. Coast Guard

Internationally acclaimed tenor Anthony Kearns performs.

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