News network salutes services, local Guardsmen during annual on-air event
By Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond, 111th Attack Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 29, 2016
HORSHAM AIR GUARD STATION, Pa. --
The darkness of 4 a.m. along Philadelphia's historic Market Street strained the lampposts' illumination of the brawny military vehicles lumbering down the route. A towable cannon weapon, an armored fighting vehicle and military-style trucks replaced the bicycles, motorcycles and cars commonly formed along the sidewalk. Camouflaged service members hustled along the concourse where commuting civilians customarily strode to work.
A few hours later, sunlight streamed down upon the merged colonial- and contemporary-styled urban skyline. The glow revealed a visual dichotomy outside of the city's local FOX News affiliate.
Each year, the typical urban scene outside of the FOX 29 studio morphs into a military metropolis, meticulously engineered by a cadre of persevering and patriotic press.
The news agency has spent nearly a decade presenting its morning program entitled, FOX 29 Salutes the Military, which aired this year on Sept. 23, from 7 - 10 a.m., and included all branches of the armed services. News anchors commanded segments with both humor and sincerity, heralding sentiments of appreciation, information and recognition regarding those in uniform - active-duty, Reserve and Guard, to include the Pennsylvania Air National Guard.
"I hope the military members here take home an understanding that we love them," said Berlinda Garnett, producer for FOX 29. "A lot of times we see different things on the television, but what we don't see is that they are leaving their families to go - they make a choice to do that. It's important that we understand why that is significant, especially given the times that we live in - we need them, we appreciate them."
A near-Herculean logistical feat, the news agency devotes one morning show during the month of September to recognize local veterans and U.S. military members throughout the world. According to those involved, planning, paperwork and permits permeate the process.
"There is a lot of planning that goes into this," said Jodi Harris, FOX 29 planning manager. "We first start our paperwork about seven months beforehand. Then we really start to plan over the next six months. Two months before, we start having meetings with the military representatives from the different branches."
The military-themed show is considered more an act of reverence than ratings. So, while it can be time-consuming, the end result is gratifying for the news crew.
"I've worked with the [military members] over the past 8 years and I've seen how much it means to them for us to do this for them," Harris continued. "And it makes me feel so good to be a part of it. You know, I'm just a person that works at FOX, but here I am able to give back and it means so much to me."
Serving as an open-air event, pedestrians were as much a part of the event as the military members, and were, in fact, encouraged to come out and participate.
"The military personnel get a lot from this event; there's a lot of tents and tables set up to help veterans," said Pa. Army National Guard Sgt. Michael Stancavage, part of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team as a geospatial engineer here. "But it brings the community together, this isn't just a veterans' event. People walking down the street can come out and participate."
The military members in attendance expressed heartfelt thanks to the FOX 29 crew for the event. They identified with the long hours the news team dedicated in their honor.
"Being military, we know what goes on behind the scenes to make large -scale constructions seamlessly come together like FOX 29 has done here today," said Air National Guard 1st Lt. Dakota Kauffman, 270th Engineering Installation Squadron project manager. "To just say, 'Thank you' to FOX 29 doesn't seem quite sufficient. Instead, we'll show our thanks by continuing to serve the state and the nation by employing all of our skills, assets and dedication."
Overall, the FOX team, military members and local civilian attendees considered the event a success. And despite the work, the news crew accomplished their mission of presenting a flawless salute to those who serve.
"We may be working 12 to 20 hours to make sure this all happens," said Garnett. "But when it comes to the actual day, you sit back and you marvel at it like, 'Wow. This is exactly what we were hoping would happen.' For me, I feel a lot of pride; American pride."