Among 2020’s graduating class are tens of thousands of high school seniors about to embark on their military careers.
MOAA Life Member Ken Hartman has made it his mission to thank every one of these young men and women, and he’s hoping to inspire a million more “thank yous” in the process.
“We need to show these kids – now more than ever – that their community and nation are behind them,” said Hartman, a former Army first lieutenant and the president and CEO of Our Community Salutes, a nonprofit created to show appreciation for military-bound high schoolers.
While his nonprofit, founded in 2009, has hosted more than 250 events around the country, the pandemic forced him to cancel in-person ceremonies and pivot online. In just four months, Hartman has recruited dozens of big names to join him in producing America Salutes – an Inaugural Virtual High School Enlistee National Recognition Ceremony.
The 60-minute show will debut July 4. Hosted by actor Terry Crews, it includes a long list of inspirational messages from servicemembers and celebrities, including rock star Alice Cooper; celebrity chef Robert Irvine; NASCAR drivers Kurt Busch and Brandon Jones; Fox & Friends’ Pete Hegseth; Defense Secretary Mark Esper; astronaut and Navy SEAL Chris Cassidy; and musical performances by Lee Greenwood and Jewel.
Hartman, a former professor and resident of Cherry Hill, N.J., most recently worked as President of Drexel University Online but said he is devoting all energy on this project.
“I literally quit my job four months ago and said I can’t do both,” Hartman said.
While not asking you to go to that extreme, he does hope you tune in and sign this virtual thank you card to this new generation of servicemembers.
How to Watch It
The pre-recorded show will debut at 11 a.m. Eastern on July 4 and will play again that day at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. You can register in advance at www.americasalutes.us/register, to receive a reminder before it airs online.
You can also follow Our Community Salutes on Facebook to receive a notification when the show premieres. Hartman’s nonprofit will also host the Virtual Career & Job Readiness Fair for Veterans on July 28 at 8:30 p.m. Eastern, following an airing of the program. Visit www.americasalutes.us/ for more.