NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Imagine a Thanksgiving celebration with more than 150 people, where some have never met before, but they are made family through their service.
“Come on in, come on in, you’ll enjoy it sweetheart,” said volunteer Gloria Koppie Castellano. That’s the welcome you get at the Soldiers’, Sailors’, Marines’, Coast Guard, and Airmen’s Club on Lexington Avenue, where military families and veterans enjoyed a true Thanksgiving meal this holiday.
“I think it’s important to remember all the things that sometimes you can take for granted, that one minute you can be here and the next minute you can have orders to be stationed in Afghanistan,” said Sgt. Randy Clinton, U.S. Marine.
Clinton spent many holidays away from his wife and children and all you have to do is look at his daughter’s smile to know what it means to have her father home.
For many at the Club, military service runs in the blood. Ivan Pellecer enlisted in the Navy five months ago. His cousin Jennifer Patron is a cadet at the Coast Guard Academy. Her father has served in the Navy for more than 20 years.
“I’m really proud of both of them, I’m proud of the next generation of folks joining the military,” said Lt. Fernando Patron.
That pride goes both ways. “I’m very proud because he’s a great Marine and I just appreciate what he does for our country,” said 9-year-old Shaelin Murphy, talking about her dad, Lt. Colonel Neil Murphy.
This grown up little girl said she’s already moved six times in her short life, but it only means more friends and more family.
“I think of the military as my family when it comes to Thanksgiving and I just think about what I’m thankful for and that I have all these wonderful people to support me,” she said.
CBS 2HD’s Cindy Hsu also grew up in a military family with members in the Coast Guard, Army and Marines, so sharing this very special story on Thanksgiving Day has been a true blessing for her.
The families at Thursdays’ celebration come from all over the country and the food is prepared by the Union League Club who started serving holiday meals to troops during the Civil War.