|We Love Our Military|
|Monday, 27 September 2010 19:06|
We usually have light-hearted funny stories in the “Blowin’ Smoke” section of the website, but I feel the need to go a tad bit more serious on this one. We competed in the 2010 Wildwood BBQ Bash, and as in the previous year, we let the contest organizers know that we would be more than happy to feed the National Guard, Police, Fire and volunteer personnel working the event. We do this out of appreciation for all who help make the competition a success year after year.
At the Bash in 2009, our site was at one of the lowest elevations of the entire grounds, and with the rain we had, it became a mud pit; no matter how much straw and mulch was thrown down, we couldn’t rise above the mud. But we fed friends, co-workers, neighbors, and laid out a table of food, whereby one friend said “the mud just disappeared . . . we weren’t thinking about the mud, we were thinking about goin’ and getting’ another plate.”
In 2009, we also fed the National Guard, who were always polite and professional, and would load a tray and return to their post; we thought that was supposed to be what they were required to do (return to their post), we didn’t think that it could possibly be the 4“ of mud that the chairs would sink into whenever any weight was placed on the chairs. This we finally found out in 2010, where rain was not a drastic issue, even though it rained some.
When the National Guard personnel would come to the tent in 2010, most would sit with us while they ate and took a little break. We would visit with them about their service to the country, answer questions about barbeque, and just generally chit-chat about anything. They would laugh as our team would rib one another about meat preparation tasks, or just for the sake of messin’ with each other. These moments sitting with these young ladies and gentlemen, were some of the most special moments of the entire competition.
From those who had just been in the service for a short while, to those who were back from serving overseas, to those about to go overseas, every single one was so polite and courteous, but with a professional demeanor; every one had a story, that all you need to do is talk to them to find out about; there was even one, who liked to compete in barbeque competitions himself (even showed me his rub recipe on his iPhone).
Our main message to the Guard members was that this was “their” tent, “if you need to rest, there is always a chair waiting for you . . . if you need a drink, snack, or just want to drop by, feel free . . . if you want something to eat, don’t be bashful, fill that plate, come back as often as you want . . . cause this is ‘pitch till you win’” . . . and eat they did, the contest organizers gave us an accurate head count, and we had plenty of food for them.
Some of the moments with the Guard were spent with them helping me with the preparation for my Chili turn-in, whereby a couple of young ladies from the Guard came by the tent for some sodas, and I asked if they would help me by tasting my chili and letting me know if it was edible . . . After tasting the chili, and saying that it was pretty swell, I gave them a bowl of it, and a handful of spoons, and as a little mission for us, to take the chili back to their post and see if others liked it as well. Upon their return, with a grinnin’ thumbs up, I turned in the Chili.
At 11-ish, we started getting a group of National Guard folk in the tent, askin’ for the Chili. Needless to say, the chili flew out of that pot like an ounce of Ethanol thru a top fuel dragster, with the last bowl going to the senior ranking 21-year veteran National Guard leader (I don't know ranks) that was in charge of directing their actions at the competition. We got to chat with him for a while and talked about how delightful all of the young men and women from the Guard had been.
A couple hours later, a couple of the National Guard troops came by the tent and brought us a token of their appreciation for making them feel at home in our tent. It was a black box and a bag of National Guard shirts, hats and other items. When we opened the black box, we were so honored to see a framed Commendation from the National Guard with a National Guard Victory Medal and an American Flag patch from a National Guard uniform. Inscribed on the Commendation is the following:
“Presented to an American Patriot for Support of National Guard Soldiers who are Defending Freedom at Home and Around the World. The American Flag in this Case is a Replica of Those Worn by National Guard Soldiers. The Flag Insignia is Reversed to Suggest the Flag is Flying in the Breeze as the Soldiers Move Forward.”
Well, I am sure it was due to the smoke coming up from the smokers going, but for some reason, my eyes started waterin’ as I shook the hand of the young man and hugged the young lady that brought the Commendation. How could these soldiers, whom we have the utmost respect for, who do so much for our country, which we are honored to be allowed to even provide a meal for . . . how can they be standing here now, honoring us for doing nothing more than sharing a meal with them . . . we were humbled.
During the awards Ceremony, the Chili Category was about to be announced; how ironic and wonderful that the announcement of that category and the awards were to be presented by the National Guard. The same senior-ranking National Guard officer (sorry, I don’t know the stripes and bars of ranks, but he had a lot ;-) that had been in our tent havin’ some chili several hours earlier, took the microphone.
To our surprise, he called out “Where is Porkin’ Ain’t Easy?” We hollered out and he pointed to us . . . “Porkin’ Aint Easy has fed us all weekend, and we have been made to feel like a part of their family, and I just want to take this opportunity to say thanks to them for their hospitality.” To my surprise, there went that smoke in my eyes once again, makin’ them water. Lookin’ up on stage, there were so many faces that we knew . . . The young lady who likes Big Red™, the young man who barbeques himself, the young ladies who helped by samplin’ the chili . . .
When I got called to the stage for the Chili Category in 10th Place, there was so many of these faces that we knew smilin’ that our name was called. As I got on the stage, one of the young ladies who had taken the bowl of Chili “on it’s little mission” to provide samples and feedback, gave me the same grinnin’ thumb’s up that she had when she returned to the tent, and said “see we said it was awesome.”
Then before we knew it, it was time for the Rib Category announcements. As the announcer called out “For the most coveted category in barbeque competitions 1st place in the Pork Rib Category goes to . . . Porkin’ Ain’t Easy!”
Though we were hollerin’ like banshees, all of a sudden my mind went quiet . . . I could see everything happening around me, but the noise sounded distant, as we headed to the stage, with Mike leading the pack. My mind went into memory mode of that weekend . . . settin’ up, cookin’ to feed the masses, the friends that stopped by, the National Guard folks that were indeed, now a part of the family . . . as Mike got handed the trophy, he spread his arms like Moses parting the Red Sea . . . “We love our Military,” he hollered at the top of his lungs.
Most folks understood why he said it, since the National Guard had graciously thanked us earlier, others may have thought we were recruiting for the new Wildwood Militia . . . but I knew why he said it. Though the moment of winning 1st Place Ribs in a competition of over 100-plus teams was awesome, Mike’s holler out for the Military was spot on, as we were blessed with so many special moments that weekend with our new-found National Guard family, that were none over-shadowed by that moment there on the stage.
Why do we cook barbeque? It is a question asked of us when folks are shocked that we are not selling to the public. Who pays for it, if we are not selling it? We do . . . Some folks have an old muscle car they sink their money into; other folks have vacation homes . . . we barbeque. Every time someone takes a bite, and says “oh my gosh, this is awesome,” it is like winning a trophy right then and there . . . this is why we do it. To generate memories like we did this weekend, especially with the National Guard folks, it’s why we keep coming back.
. . . so if there is ever a hungry soldier out there . . . and he or she can smell the smoke . . . just know that there is always food and drink for you at the Porkin’ Ain’t Easy tent, because “We love our military. . .”
|Last Updated on Monday, 27 September 2010 23:12|