Military Families kick off Fourth of July celebration during 'Grill of Honor' competition
July 3, 2013
Servicemembers in the National Capital Region competed in the USO, Lowe's "Grill of Honor" competition at Nationals Park on Saturday to help kickoff the Fourth of July celebration.
Each branch of the military was represented during the competition other while servicemembers and their Families enjoyed activities like face painting, corn hole and building miniature model race cars.
"This was just a fabulous day with a corporation like Lowe's working with the USO," said Elaine Rodgers, USO president. "All of us brought our volunteers, and this was just a wonderful way for us to say thank you to our troops and their Families to say, 'We haven't forgotten you and thank you for your service to your country.'"
Each branch selected the burger they were going to make just before the start of the competition. The teams, made up of two servicemembers per team, had 40 minutes to make the burger and two additional minutes to put it on a plate for the judges to taste.
Rodgers, along with radio and TV personality, Carson Daly, and actress Brooklyn Decker sampled each burger and selected a winner. The trio voted the U.S. Marine Corps team the winners, so Lowe's made a $100,000 donation to the USO on behalf of the winning branch.
The event was a good way for military Families to relax and spend time together, according to Javier Muniz, U.S. Army Culinary Arts Team.
"It's amazing," said Muniz of the event. "You have a lot of servicemembers and Families involved, so you can't ask for much more than that."
Though Muniz and his partner did not win the grilling competition, he still enjoyed being able to compete and give his Family an opportunity to have some fun.
"It's a good morale boost," said Muniz. "The children get involved and get a chance to have some fun and not worry about where their parent is deployed or what they are doing."
Sgt. 1st Class Barton Beatty, Gerber Village resident, participated in the competition to help his neighbor who is in the Coast Guard. Beatty, like Muniz, liked giving his Family a chance to enjoy a good experience in good weather.
"It's always fun to participate in USO events," said Beatty. "Having the opportunity to come to Nationals Park and get a tour of the stadium; it's good for servicemembers to get that relaxation time with their Families away from their jobs."
Family ties to the military are what brought Daly and Decker to the event. Daly's Grandfather was a Green Beret, his father spent several years in the Navy and his uncle spent time in the Marine Corps. Decker's grandfather was also in the Army, and her uncle is currently in the Coast Guard.
"The military holds a special place in my heart," said Daly. "A lot of opportunities come by celebrities' desks for stuff to do for the military. So, whenever an opportunity comes across my desk, I'm like, 'Where is that, I want to be there.'"
Along with having the opportunity to speak with servicemembers and their Families, Decker enjoyed participating in an event to kick off the Fourth of July celebration that took place in the Nation's Capital.
"What I love about the event is it is being done to thank the military and their Families," said Decker. "It's definitely special to be a part of it."
The setting and purpose of the event is perfect, according to Beatty.
"It's awesome," said Beatty. "You can't ask for a better event in a better setting than this."