Veterans Day to me is celebrating, remembering and honoring our heroes that have ALL served in the Military. Honor ALL Veterans of the US Armed forces, present, past and future. My very own brave solider, SGT Charles Bernard Kitowski, lost his life a year ago, August 12, 2007 while serving over in Afghanistan. My life has forever been changed and I'm so honored to have gained a new family, my Military Family. Charles was a hero to look up to and a man to be admired. He was kind, caring, thoughtful, he had happiness and joy in his heart. He was so good about the little things in life; helping with Habitat for Humanity, Volunteering for Meals on Wheels and enlisting for the Army. Charles made me happy, encouraged me daily, never let me down and to this day I couldn't be more proud of him . Ever since 911, Charles felt duty bound, and never looked back about this decision. This year on Veterans Day was unlike any that I have ever experienced. I had the opportunity this past weekend to fly to St. Louis and be a part of the Veterans Day Parade, and to honor Charles Kitowski , Michael Fuga (Southwest Employees who lost their lives while serving our Country) and all the men and women who have served in the Military. I along with 30 other volunteers from Southwest helped decorate the float that tenVeterans from the Center for Citizen Leadership would be riding in. As we were walking over to the opening ceremonies for the Parade I couldn't help but notice all the hundreds of Military men and women in uniform, flags, people wearing red, white and blue and that made me proud. My heart now is in a different place than it has ever been, just being part of such an amazing experience and being able to Thank a Veteran for their ultimate sacrifice is so uplifting and rewarding. As we were walking in the Parade, I looked around just watching my fellow Southwest Employees and I couldn't have been more thankful and appreciative. I saw them running up to people passing out peanuts, giving hugs, thanking Veterans, waving and most of all enjoying their day and that made me proud to be a part of such an wonderful Company. This past weekend brought back many memories, and I've made new ones that I plan to make a tradition and be a part of for many years to come. My Southwest family gives me hope. After the Parade we went to the Veterans day ceremony where Southwest partnered up with a group called Center for Citizen Leadership. Under this Leadership they have several programs that help the disabled and wounded veterans. One program which we are taking a part in is The Mission Continues (TMC); its mission is to place wounded and disabled veterans into volunteer positions in their communities. The goal is to provide service opportunities for wounded veterans who still have the desire to serve their country, but whose disabilities prevent them from continuing to serve in the military. They accomplish this goal by awarding fellowships for volunteer work to veterans who have suffered severe or traumatic injuries in Iraq or Afghanistan. In honor of our two Southwest Employees Charles Kitowski and Michael Fuga, Southwest is sponsoring two Fellowships next year in their name. I am very honored and proud to part of such an amazing event. I had the chance to meet and talk to several Veterans that have been awarded Fellowships. It's so moving listening to how they are serving our country being disabled. One Veteran is helping others through therapeutic horse therapy, another who is paralyzed is helping others learn how to snow ski and yet another one is counseling others. Each individual awarded a Fellowship has a story of how they are teaching/helping our community in more ways than one today after what they have been through. Serving our country wasn't enough for them, and they want to use their disability to do more. Being a part of the ceremony makes you really stop and think about what these men and women have been through and that they still have that desire to do more. Veterans give me hope and a new appreaction to life. Today and everyday we should honor and thank our Veterans’ for all they have done for our country. Give a salute or even thank a war Veteran today. So this Veterans Day hits very close to home as I reflect on the past years I had with Charles. One thing I will always remember about Charles is his smile. It was worth a million words, contagious, and unforgettable. I am forever grateful to have had Charles in my life and the impact he has had in my life. I hope this past weekend and today on Veterans Day, Charles will be proud of me and everything I have accomplished with him and for him the past year. He was many things to many people, but to me he was my rock, my best friend, my future, and my heart. Charles gives me hope. (Take a look at the video blog for a video of the event.)
... View more
As it's getting close to 3 months, my heart is still very sad and broken. I love you and miss you so much. I can't believe you are not home with me right now. Tomorrow, will be hard, as I will be with your parents and our friends at Southwest for the Tree Planting Memorial Service for you and Michael Fuga. At least, I know there will be somewhere at work I can go to talk to you. Your strength is helping me through this and I know you are always there for me. LOVE YOU SOOO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!
... View more
Today is November 1st...you would be on your way home right now. I've been thinking about you and what all we had planned all day..it's so hard and I'm hurting. I LOVE YOU SOOOO MUCH!
... View more
As much pain as I'm in right now, I want everyone to know what a great guy Charles is and that he truly lived and believed in the Southwest way. He has a Fun-Luving attitdue, Servants Heart and a Warrior Spirit. He loved his family, friends and Southwest Airlines. Here I am telling everyone the story he wanted to tell everyone after his mission on Friday.I want everyone to know when I talked to him last Saturday that he was in a great mood and so excited about coming home. I just never thought that would be the last time I heard his sweet, caring voice. He told me a couple of weeks ago, that I "eased his pain through this trying time".
I love you, Charles! I will never forget all the memories we had together. I will miss you, your smile, our laughs, our talks, and most of all just being with you. You made me feel at ease and made me a better person. We had so much fun together and were so silly. I just think about about all the things we did...and it just makes me laugh. I want you to know that, I would do anything to have you back with your family and I. This wasn't suppose to happen and I am so heartbroken. I am going to be with your family in Houston today, and just know that I am going to be strong for your mom. I know that's what you would want me to do. I am thinking about you and love you so much! I will never forget this saying,"God be with us together and apart". I will always remember what you told me last Christms "Smile your always on my mind".
If anyone from his unit (345) or over in Afghanistan is reading this, please find a way to get in contact with me. It would me everything to me. If
Clint Dickey is reading this I want to thank-you for being a good friend to Charles the past year. I remember him calling me and telling me that you two were always eating together, working out together, playing video games together, watching movies together, downloading music together,and talking about your girlfrineds together 😃 Charles also told me about how you went on leave to South Padre and how much fun you had with all your friends. He was looking forward to coming home in November. I really just want to thank-you from the bottom of my heart for being there with him and for him. If there's anyway you can get in contact with me, I would really like that. I have so many things I want to talk to you about.
I love you CHARROS and Happy Birthday!
... View more
Great Blog Shelley! Thank-you for taking the time talk to about our Heroes here at Southwest! I love the pictures, especially the one of me on Charles' wall, LOL! Please keep all of them in your thoughts and prayers. Hurry Home!
We LUV you and miss you. Be careful!
Thanks again Shelley!
... View more
Great post! It was such a great experience and something I will never forget! Thanks to our wonderful Boeing friends! A BIG THANKS to you, Shelley and Lori for showing us a great time! The three Party Girls!!! Friendships and memories were made that will last a life time! Hope we all can get together soon. Oh, one more thing......HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHARROS! I haven't said that in a long time!!!
... View more