By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Recently our family was at a retreat in Tennessee, and one of the young musicians there, who dresses like Donna Reed and genuinely looks like she could be from the ‘40s, asked me at dinner one night if I had ever heard of Operation Meatball. I told her no, and she told me I needed to do an article about them. Thinking this would be something that would either fit on the Food Channel or America’s Got Talent, I cast about in my mind as to what I could possibly say about meatballs that hadn’t already been said. However, Miss G made me curious, and besides, I always just enjoy hearing her talk. She proceeded to tell me about some “marvelous mavens” by the name of Liberty, Jubilee, and Faith who dress in ‘40s clothing, perform ‘40s music and travel around the country thanking the remaining members of the Greatest Generation for their service.
The dictionary defines a “maven” asa trusted expert in a particular field, who seeks to pass timely and relevant knowledge on to others in the respective field.So how could Faith, Liberty, and Jubilee be considered “experts” when they are young enough to be some of these guys’ great-grandchildren? They listened to and honored their stories, immersed themselves in the culture of the day, asked a lot of questions, did research on everything from music to fashion to films to food, and set out on what was originally going to be a three year project to honor WWII vets before they passed on.
From their website, www.operationmeatball.com:
“Our awareness of and love for WWII veterans started in 2005 when we participated in the 60th anniversary of Iwo Jima held in Fredericksburg, Texas. A few years later, our family traveled to Normandy for the first time and took part in the anniversary of the D-Day Invasion. The veteran friendships we formed there left an especially deep impression on us, and we were deeply impacted by the shortage of time we have with this unique and special generation. So during the summer of 2014, the three of us decided to commit the next three years to honoring and showing gratitude to the veterans of the Second World War. We did this through hosting events for the veterans in our local area, making house visits to veterans unable to travel, attending military reunions and WWII events with the purpose of meeting and interviewing veterans, volunteering with Honor Flight, greeting at the WWII Memorial, and recorded 3 CDS of WWII music for the veterans. Over the course of the three years we traveled over 200,000 miles, collected hundreds of stories, and met many, many wonderful veterans of WWII. The richness of the experience is almost indescribable.”
They struck such a chord with vets of all ages that it is now 2018, by popular demand they have started a 501 C-3 to support themselves, and are committed to keep Operation Meatball going for those who served in Korea and Vietnam. They have another mission as well: “[We are] dedicated to honoring veterans and connecting them with the youth of today.” As to the name, Operation Meatball, is there some kind of special significance? They get asked that often, and here is their answer:
“And as far as where the name “Operation Meatball” comes from… well, there really isn’t an answer to that. Before the 2014 trip to Normandy, we threw around the idea of giving it a name in honor of previous endeavors such as OperationOverlord, Operation Fortitude, and the like. However, somehow along theway (no one really knows who started it) we ended up with Operation Meatball. Not very dignified, but neither was the name Operation Mincemeat.” (Mincemeat is the code name given to the elaborate hoax perpetrated by the Brits wherein the planted body of a soldier who had supposedly died at sea was found by the Nazis off the coast of Spain containing false documents. This led Hitler to believe that the Allies were going to invade elsewhere, and it is largely believed that the ruse saved countless lives, as well as served to turn the tide of the war in Europe.)
However, Meatball is no ruse, its value is incalculable to all involved, and if you would like to support them, please go to www.operationmeatball.com.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner