Miss America 2010 visits U.S. servicemembers and families in Germany
May 13, 2010
STUTTGART, Germany - Miss America 2010 Caressa Cameron arrived in Stuttgart, Germany the morning of May 9 kicking off a five-day tour where she will visit U.S. military personnel and their families, U.S. school children attending Department of Defense schools, and wounded warriors at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and at warrior transition centers in Baumholder, Grafenwoeher, Kaiserslautern and Stuttgart.
This is Cameron's first time traveling to Europe and she expressed great excitement at being in Germany and having this opportunity to meet U.S. servicemembers and their families.
Volcanic ash, which closed air space in southern Germany Sunday afternoon, thwarted plans for Miss America to travel to Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Garmisch the evening of her arrival to sing the National Anthem and speak at the opening ceremony for the American Women's Activities, Germany's (AWAG) 54th Annual Conference.
Cameron and General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), were traveling together to the event, which was being organized by AWAG, a non-profit, registered private organization that focuses on strengthening and connecting volunteers, their organizations and their communities throughout Europe.
When air conditions forced the return of their UH-60 Blackhawk to the Stuttgart Army Airfield, they drove to the AFRICOM headquarters, also in Stuttgart, to record video messages that were uploaded and played at the conference in Garmisch. Ward's message explained that they had done their best to try and make the conference but that it was nice to at least be able to talk to the group virtually.
Cameron sang the National Anthem on video and afterwards she and Ward offered a few remarks to the group of more than 400 AWAG volunteers and organizers gathered together for the four-day conference. Participants traveled in from all parts of Germany, as well as Belgium, England, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Turkey.
"I want to offer my warm, warm thanks and gratitude to all of you who are there participating in this year's AWAG conference," Ward said. "We appreciate the work that you do so very, very greatly. All of you who volunteer... thank you for all that you do in support of the military families who are here in this part of the world, throughout Europe, and all that you do to cause our work to be more easily accomplished because of your selfless service."
Ward also wished all the mothers a Happy Mother's Day
Turning to introduce Cameron, a 22-year-old broadcast communications student from Fredericksburg, Virginia, who was crowned Miss America January 30, 2010, Ward said that Cameron reminded him of his own daughter and introduced her as "our Miss America."
"I'm just so proud to be standing here next to her and so proud of her and her great accomplishments as well," Ward said. "As she so ably and excellently represents the Unites States of America in her role, as she is such a great advocate and representative for who we are as a nation and how she does that through her activities."
Cameron extended her own wish for a Happy Mother's Day to conference attendees and told them that she heard a lot of wonderful things about the organization's volunteers.
"I want to extend my sincere gratitude to all of you," she said. "The job that you do, and the service that you present, is unparalleled, and I just cannot say how many wonderful things I've heard about you. And how wonderful it is to know that there are people out there who do what you do, who care and serve willingly and freely because they have the heart to do so. A lot of my job as Miss America is going around and caring for others. ... What you offer to this country, to countries all around the world, and abroad is absolutely amazing. Thank you for your heart of service."
As Miss America, Cameron is the National Goodwill Ambassador for the Children's Miracle Network and her personal platform is "Real Talk: Aids in America. Near the end of her visit to Germany, Cameron will receive a brief from AFRICOM staff, who will discuss the command's military HIV/AIDS program, which now reaches 39 African countries. The program is aimed at mitigating the impacts of the disease on African military readiness.