VFW.org

FRIDAY TURNS RED IN ARIZONA

Arizonans begin new tradition to showcase their pride in our military.

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“Home of the free because of the brave …”

It’s the slogan hundreds of patriotic Americans sport every Friday on the back of red t-shirts—a phenomenon better known as Red Shirt Fridays.

“Red Shirt Friday is a way for patriotic people to show, in a quiet way, that we support our troops,” said Post 7507 Commander John Pletz. “The goal is to get as many people as we can to wear the shirt every Friday until the troops come home.”

Pletz and his wife first encountered the shirts when they visited the VFW Post in Show Low, Ariz., last summer.

“We were particularly moved by the message and quickly embraced the idea of getting our Post involved,” said Pletz. “It seemed like a great way to spread awareness in our community.”

With help from two other veterans’ organizations, Pletz began enlisting the help of several volunteers to sell the shirts in his hometown of Fountain Hill, Ariz.

With t-shirts selling for $10, polos for $25 and tanks for $15, the Post has already donated more than $3,000 to two community shelters for homeless veterans.

“It’s great to raise money for veterans in need, but this isn’t just about selling shirts,” said Pletz, “It’s about starting the conversation … building a bond with military supporters near and far.”

The volunteers are moved by the outpouring of support.

“The conversations they have with the people who buy the shirts are always moving,” said Pletz. “The people are eager to share their stories. They just need an ear that’s eager to listen.”

Those who purchase shirts are encouraged to visit www.RedShirtFridayinFountainHills.info, where they can send photos and short bios of their loved ones in uniform.

“It’s become quite the public forum for military families and friends,” said Pletz.

When Pletz reaches his goal of 7,000 shirts sold, he plans to set aside a Friday to host a special event.

“I would love to get 7,000 patriots in red shirts to circle Fountain Lake, hand-in-hand, singing God Bless America,” said Pletz. “Two chopper pilots have already volunteered to capture the photograph.”

Pletz encourages other Posts to follow suit.

“Red Shirt Friday is a vehicle that takes us out into the world. Such a simple thing, a red shirt, but it blesses lives in a multitude of ways,” Pletz concluded.

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