The Community Foundation awards a Presidential Grant to Embracing Our Military to mark Veteran’s Day
“Their stories are important,” Mary Pruess said as she thinks back to the segments that have aired over the past year on Embracing Our Military, a program of WQPT-Quad Cities PBS. “Their stories touch lives, and make a difference.”
That’s the power of storytelling.
WQPT has hosted Embracing Our Military, an initiative that includes community-based dialogues and events to raise awareness for the Quad Cities military and veterans community, for the past four years. To honor the veterans of the United States military, the initiative received a Presidential Grant from the Quad Cities Community Foundation this week.
“WQPT is doing an incredibly valuable service through this initiative,” said Sherry Ristau, president and CEO at the Community Foundation. “Their engaging programming and public forums honor an important segment of our population who sacrifice so much for our community, and our country. Through the Embracing Our Military program, our veterans and military personnel have a great opportunity to connect with one another and share their experiences.”
The WQPT initiative has also included hosting The Wall That Heals in the Quad Cities, a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Almost 7,000 people came to visit the traveling memorial. “There was one person who was a veteran of Vietnam who went to the wall and it was the first time in years they felt a sense of patriotism,” Pruess said, who serves as general manager at WQPT.
There was another local man who said he did not serve in Vietnam but felt guilty when several of his high school friends did go to war, but did not return. He called the station to thank them for bringing the memorial to the Quad Cities. “Those are the meaningful stories,” she added.
The main goal of the initiative is to raise the visibility of the work being done by the military and veterans in the community and to help them connect with one another. As part of the work, the station hosts on-air programming that fits under the umbrella of the initiatives, including Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War,” as well as a series that features local veterans and military personnel and a program that highlights historical military facts. The station also hosts community screenings of military-related films.
In the Quad Cities, an estimated 15 percent of the Quad Cities community have military ties, Pruess noted. “It’s an important part of our population and we felt this was an important role that the station could play.”
Preuss said more than 100 partners have supported the work of the Embracing Our Military program. “This is one way to show that the military population in the Quad Cities is important to us,” she said. “It’s emblematic of the way this community supports them. And we’re grateful to the Community Foundation for honoring our veterans through this Presidential Grant to make our work possible.”