Miss America 2011 greets Fort Meade service members at Freedom Inn
October 20, 2011
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. - Chivalry is not dead at Fort Meade.
When the current Miss America, Teresa Scanlan, visited the Freedom Inn dining facility on Oct. 12, a Solider greeted her on bended knee and a Marine invited her to be his date at the Marine Corps Ball on Nov. 5 at Club Meade.
Scanlan, 18, in a red dress, black heels and her trademark silver crown, warmly smiled at each of her guests, gave them a friendly handshake and posed for a picture at their side before signing autographs for both.
"It was great," said Pvt. David Phaphon, a student at the Defense Information School.
While meeting Scanlan, Phaphon received cheers and applause as he was on one knee to take Scanlan's hand.
"I just wanted to make her laugh and have some fun," he said. "It's a great morale booster."
Scanlan spent nearly 90 minutes at the Freedom Inn greeting staffers, service members and post firefighters. She also posed for pictures, signed autographs and engaged in cordial banter.
"It was awesome," said John Rezac, an appliance technician working at the Freedom Inn when Scanlan visited.
He posed for a picture with Miss America and Freedom Inn employees.
"It was a bright spot in my day -- any day," he said.
Scanlan was crowned Miss America in January by the Miss America Organization at the annual pageant in Las Vegas. She was awarded a $50,000 college scholarship and won a $3,000 talent award.
Miss America, whose platform issue is eating disorders, plans to attend Patrick Henry College in Purceville, Va., next fall and has ambitions of becoming a judge or politician.
"This is amazing," said Scanlan, whose paternal grandfather served in World War II. "It is an honor for me to visit Fort Meade, just to be here to say thank you. They're my heroes."
Scanlan's visit was part of a four-day tour of the Washington-metro area that began Oct. 10 and was partially sponsored by the USO of Metropolitan Washington.
"We have a long-standing relationship with the Miss America Organization," said Madison Kelley, hospital communications coordinator of the USO Metropolitan Washington, who helps to handle celebrity outreach for the USO and events for wounded warriors.
"We're just trying to strengthen our relationship with Fort Meade to organize more celebrity and special events. It's one of our biggest bases and we want to serve them better."
In addition to Fort Meade, Scanlan visited Fort Myer, Va., during the tour and attended the Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C., where she played piano for participants and met with wounded warriors from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda.
On Oct. 13, Scanlan was a guest at the Congressional Spouses Club in Washington, D.C., before flying to Indiana for other appearances.
During her visit to the installation, Miss America met with Garrison Commander Col. Edward C. Rothstein and Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Charles E. Smith at garrison headquarters before they escorted her to the Freedom Inn. When she arrived at the dining facility to be greeted with cheers and howls.
"It's a great opportunity to have her here. She's such a sweet young lady," Rothstein said. "We're looking forward to her meeting with our service members."
Airman Jared Rand of the Air Force Detachment 2, 336th Training Squadron, was one of the first to stand in line for a picture and autograph.
"I was shaking," said Rand as he glanced at the photo of him and Scanlan. "She seems really nice. She interacted with us like a normal person. She's very pretty and very professional."
Miss America enjoyed a lunch of barbecue ribs, macaroni and cheese, peas and warm bread after taking a group photo with Freedom Inn staffers. Before leaving for the day, she met with Fort Meade firefighters in front of the dining facility to pose again for pictures and sign autographs.
"It was nice," said Nichele Fields, a cook and mess attendant at the Freedom Inn. "There's a first time for everything. I was really shocked and very excited. You never would have thought she would come here."