Kimberly's Pages - The Liberty Misses

Kimberly's Pages
The Liberty Misses

The Liberty Misses play an important role in the entertainment and morale support of our military. We have received many citations in appreciation for our efforts at home and abroad. We were honored by the State Senate of Connecticut in 2000 and 2001. Also, in 2000 and 2001, "Liberty Miss Day" was proclaimed in Willimantic, Connecticut.

Some of the places we've visited: Azores, Bahrain, Bosnia, Croatia, Diego Garcia, Egypt, England, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Korea, Kuwait, Macedonia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. We've performed at the Fleet Week festivities on the U.S.S. Intrepid in New York City as well as many other places. Some of those appearances include: Groton Sub Base, New London, CT U.S.O. Woman of the Year Luncheon, U.S.O. Gold Medal Dinner, President and Mrs. George Bush, Governor John Rowland of CT, Desert Storm Welcome Home Parade, NYC, Fort Eustis, VA, U.S. Coast Guard Family Day, Governor's Island, NY, U.S. Naval Officer's Ball, Fort Hamilton, NJ, West Point Military Academy, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with Bob Hope, NYC, U.S.S. John C. Stennis Commissioning, in VA - plus many more! Before our Summer tour 2000, we traveled to Virginia to perform for the U.S.O. of Hampton Roads at the Chesapeake Clean the Bay Day, the Hampton Roads VA Hospital and on the U.S.S. Enterprise D-Day Cruise.

Each group member is a young woman who was or is a local preliminary winner in the Miss America Scholarship Organization. Most members are college or graduate students trained in dance and voice who volunteer their time for rehearsals and performances. Each young woman first becomes a member of our CT Troupe and after hard work and dedication, is selected to be one of the few to become a Liberty Miss.

The Liberty Misses was originally established in 1986 through the U.S.O. of Metropolitan New York in conjunction with the Miss Connecticut Scholarship Pageant. (The Miss Connecticut affiliation lasted until 1995 and U.S.O. until 2001.) The Liberty Misses is a non-profit organization and receives all of its funding through private donations and fundraising. The first performance was onboard the U.S.S. Kennedy for President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan. From there we have continued to present shows for the military overseas through the Department of Defense Armed Forces Professional Entertainment Office and most importantly in the states for our Veterans.

Our show is a musical variety type (remember Bob Hope shows?) with music ranging from the 1940's on up to today. Numbers include: country, rock, hip hop, disco, swing, and standards. There are full costume changes between each number to reflect the musical style. Members perform song and dance medleys as well as solos. Our show features lots of audience participation and fun for the whole family!

We hope that you enjoy browsing through our website and while you're at it - feel free to sign our guestbook and/or e-mail us!

The USO is chartered by the Congress as a non-profit charitable corporation, it is not a part of the United States Government. It receives no direct government funding, but is endorsed by the President of the United States and the Secretary of Defense. Each President has been the Honorary Chairman of the USO since its inception.

The USO mission is to provide morale, welfare and recreation-type services to uniformed military Personnel. The original intent of Congress - and enduring style of USO delivery - is to represent the American people by extending a "Touch of Home" to their military members. Thus, although some USO programs/services are similar to those provided by other agencies, the hallmark of the USO has been and will continue to be HOW, as much as WHAT, services are provided. Key focus/atmosphere/purpose differences are:

* Non-profit oriented vs. profit oriented
* Charitable vs. business
* Volunteer vs. employee emphasis

Worldwide Operations:
Over 120 USO Centers around the world.
Overseas centers located in Germany, Italy, France, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Iceland, Hungary, Israel, Japan, Okinawa, Korea, and the Virgin Islands.

33 independent affiliated USO corporations are located throughout the United States.

An average of over 5,000,000 patrons are served annually.

The World USO Organization:
USO World Headquarters is located on the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.

Chairman of the USO World Board of Governors is Mr. John Gottschalk.

President and CEO of the World USO is General Carl E. Mundy, Jr., USMC (Ret'd)

General programs and services include:

* "Newcomer" briefings for troops and family members
* Port vendor coordination
* Cultural awareness seminars
* Airport service centers
* Family-oriented picnics and cookouts
* Children’s programs (especially around holidays)
* High quality inexpensive tours
* Employment assistance for military service dischargees
* New bride (and brides to be) orientations
* Telephone, Internet and email capabilities
* USO Canteens and USO Centers which - on or off base - provide a relaxing, homey and wholesome alternative to daily stress.

Volunteer Culture:
The USO is, by Congressional Charter, the people’s covenant with their Armed Forces that their sacrifices are appreciated.

This covenant has been - and will continue to be - delivered in large part by the USO’s most important resource, its volunteers.

Over 12,000 members in the USO international corps of volunteers provide an estimated 450,000 hours of service annually, a worldwide personal contribution of over $3 million.

From welcoming home deployed troops at 0200 to relieving the loneliness of an individual Soldier/Marine/Sailor/Airman or Coast Guardsman, the volunteer contribution in delivering a "Touch of Home" is the USO’s primary asset.

Unpaid volunteer to paid employee ratio overseas is more than 20 to 1. Within the United States, this number is significantly higher.

"When young Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen see a USO sign, they see the front door of their homes, they see open arms greeting them, and they see smiling faces ready to help them. For over 55 years, the USO has been a home away from home!"
General John M. Shalikashvili, USA, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"It’s nice when you’re out in another country, it truly is a port in a storm."
Staff Sergeant Angel Stafford, USAF.

"The USO is the foundation of our morale around the world. We’ll continue to thank them until my dying day."
Vice Admiral Douglas J. Katz, USN.

In 1940, America’s military was rapidly growing in response to the increasing threat which preceded entry into World War II. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt challenged six private organizations - the YMCA, YWCA, National Catholic Community Service, the National Jewish Welfare Board, the Traveler’s Aid Association and the Salvation Army - to handle the on-leave recreation needs for the members of the Armed Forces. The six organizations pooled their resources and the United Service Organizations which quickly became known as the USO - was incorporated in New York State on February 4, 1941. By 1944, USOs were found in over 3,000 locations throughout the United States primarily staffed by the USO’s most precious resource, volunteers. President Roosevelt became the first USO Honorary Chairman, a position accepted by every President who followed.

Early in 1941, entertainment industry professionals helped the USO begin "Camp Shows" with the entertainers waiving pay and working conditions to bring live entertainment to the troops at bases within the United States. With America’s entry into World War II, "USO Camp Shows" expanded to bring live entertainment to Americans fighting overseas. Bob Hope made his first USO tour in 1942 and the USO/Bob Hope partnership has continued for more than five decades. Between 1941 and 1947, over 7,000 "soldiers in greasepaint" performed an incredible 428,521 USO shows. The USO show concept has endured and continues today as "USO Celebrity Entertainment."

Following the Allies liberation of Rome in 1943, The first overseas "USO Canteen" was established in Rome following the Allies liberation in 1943. The Canteen served American troops in the midst of World War II.

On December 31, 1947, President Harry S. Truman thanked the USO for fulfilling its mission with "signal distinction" and granted the USO an honorable discharge from active service. However, with the onset of the cold war, America maintained a large peacetime military force with both recreational and morale needs. A Civilian Advisory Committee recommended to President Truman that either the USO be reactivated or another civilian agency be created for the same purpose. On January 1, 1949, the new peacetime USO began with Mr. Harvey S. Firestone, Jr. elected as the its President.

At the beginning of the Korean War, the USO was called upon to once again provide social, recreational and entertainment support for America’s servicemen and women. A "Memorandum of Understanding" (MOU) was entered into between the USO and the Department of Defense (DoD). Under its terms, the USO became solely responsible to the President of the United States and the Secretary of Defense for the discharge of its responsibilities.

During the Korean War, 294 USO centers were in operation, both stateside and overseas. By the end of the 1950s, the USO had established itself as a permanent organization dedicated to serving the social and recreational needs of the Armed Forces throughout world.

Following the Korean War, America’s troop strength remained high as cold war tensions grew. However, funding for the USO steadily decreased. A survey was commissioned to determine if there was a need for a voluntary civilian program to serve the military in peacetime. A panel of experts led by Michigan State University President Dr. John A. Hannah unanimously agreed that the USO was needed "not merely during wartime, but perhaps even more certainly during the cold war or ‘normal peacetime,’ both in the United States and overseas." As a result of recommendations made by the Hannah Survey, many USOs in larger cities became autonomous and responsible for their own fund-raising while the national USO focused on supporting USO centers where the needs of service personnel were generally the greatest - overseas.

Lingering doubts about the need for the USO vanished with the rapid buildup of troops in Vietnam. The USO opened its first center in Saigon in September of 1963. In 1965, the USO announced plans to expand its services in South Vietnam, a decision welcomed by President Lyndon Johnson. At the beginning of the U.S. withdrawal in 1972, the USO had 18 centers in Vietnam and seven in Thailand. In addition, entertainers performed 5,600 USO Shows in Vietnam between May 1965 and June 1972, highlighted by eight consecutive Bob Hope Christmas Shows. The unpopularity of the Vietnam War at home made USO centers and shows all the more important to America’s fighting force.

Public support of the USO again declined following the U. S. withdrawal from Vietnam. The United Way and DoD jointly commissioned a Blue Ribbon Study Committee to determine if the USO had become obsolete as a result of the initiation of the "all volunteer armed forces." The Committee concluded that "if there were no USO, another organization would have to be created" to replace it. "Isolation of the military from civilian influences is not, we believe, in the interest of this nation." With this endorsement, the USO reemerged in the early 1970s with programs and services designed to meet the changes in the military population, many of whom were married.

During the 1970s, outreach programs for the increased number of military families began worldwide. More USO centers were established in airports to meet the needs of military travelers. USO job assistance programs began for men and women leaving the military. And USO shows for troops stationed around the world continued.

In 1977, the USO Headquarters relocated from New York to Washington, D.C., underscoring its role as a national agency serving the Armed Forces. By 1979, the six founding agencies withdrew, leaving the USO totally independent. On December 20, 1979, President Jimmy Carter signed the USO Congressional Charter into law (Title 36, U.S. Code, Chapter 45) and the USO became incorporated in the District of Columbia.

The USO Congressional Charter states in part that "The objects and purposes of the corporation are to provide a voluntary civilian agency through which the people of the Nation may, in peace or war, serve the religious, spiritual, social, welfare, educational, and entertainment needs of the men and women in the Armed Forces within or without the territorial limits of the United States, and in general, to contribute to the maintenance of morale of such men and women" The Charter also entrusts management of the USO corporation to a board of governors, and provides that the corporation shall have all the powers necessary "to establish, regulate, and terminate State, regional, local and overseas councils, organizations, chapters, or affiliates in such manner and by such rules as it deems appropriate so as to enable it to carryout its powers and accomplish the objects and purposes set forth..."

In the early 1980s, tours by Lou Rawls and Loretta Lynn revived the USO’s stagnant entertainment momentum. 1983 found Bob Hope and his USO show Christmas Special entertaining Sailors and Marines off the coast of Lebanon. Major rock musicians also began touring for the USO. In 1984, a large USO center opened in Haifa, Israel, and centers in Europe, the South Pacific, the Caribbean and Far East continued to provide USO services. On November 9, 1987, the terms of a new DoD MOU recognized the USO as the principal channel representing civilian concern for U.S. Armed Forces around the world. A position enhanced through a series of endorsement letters from Secretaries of Defense which embrace the DoD/USO partnership, the latest dated 29 April 1997 from Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen.

Terrorism touched the USO on April 14, 1988 when a car bomb exploded outside the USO Fleet Center in Naples, Italy. The center was destroyed and the bomb killed five people including the first woman in the U.S. Navy to die in a terrorist attack.

In 1990, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait prompted a massive buildup of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf. The USO opened operations in Saudi Arabia while providing stateside support for families of those deployed to the Middle East in support of Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Numerous celebrity entertainers - including Bob Hope, Steve Martin and Jay Leno - volunteered their talent to the USO. USO mobile canteens - large 4-wheel drive trucks with snacks, drinks, movies, and much more - rumbled over desert terrain to bring a "touch of home" to American troops. After Desert Storm, the USO opened centers in Dubai and Bahrain, primarily to support Sailors and Marines during port visits.

The 1993 U.S. peacekeeping effort in Somalia resulted in the opening of a USO center in a battle scarred building at the Mogadishu airport. USO programs and celebrity entertainment shows were quickly mobilized. The USO established a "Standard Operating Procedure" (SOP) with Central Command followed by a similar document with Headquarters, Eighth United States Army, which outlined the parameters for USO participation in future military endeavors.

A 1994 U.S. peacekeeping initiative in Haiti was supported by entertainers and items for the troops delivered by the USO. And, in 1996, a USO center was opened in Kaposvar, Hungary and, in 1997, in Taszar, Hungary as American troops were assigned to restore and maintain peace in Bosnia. And, in November 1997, a USO mobile canteen began providing services for Bosnia area troops.

The USO’s commitment to be America’s link with her men and women in uniform has withstood the test of time. With the continued dedication of the USO legion of volunteers and charitable support from individuals and corporations, the USO will provide its "touch of home" for as long as we have those in service to their country.