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Dana Warrior blogs about her unforgettable trip to Fort Hood for Tribute to the Troops

There can be no doubt how invested WWE is in honoring our enlisted men and women when taking part in Tribute to the Troops. When Chairman Vincent K. McMahon refers to Tribute as “our most meaningful show of the year,” you better believe all hands are on deck to make it spectacular! This year, WWE converged on Fort Hood Army Base with our own brand of military precision. Every member of the roster, active duty or not, made it a priority to be in Texas to guarantee this 16th-annual Tribute to the Troops would be one for the record books!

The show on USA Network, set to air Thursday, Dec. 20, at 8 p.m. EST, is sure to bring a well-deserved spotlight to our beloved enlisted. In the vein of Bob Hope, with a WWE twist, the entire company set out to entertain and elevate the spirits of all who serve.

Roman Reigns made his first public appearance since heroically announcing the war he’s waging against leukemia. Braun Stroman was on hand to show off “These Hands” even while his elbow was recovering.

WWE Superstars wowed the audience on the packed aircraft hangar with epic matches.

On another part of the base alongside Bayley, Samoa Joe, Titus O’Neil, Sin Cara and Apollo Crews, I was honored to host a Be A Star Rally at Meadows Elementary School followed by a tour of the great work Celebration of Love is doing to bring the magic of Christmas to hundreds of kids from these heroic military families.

Enough cannot be said about what it takes to ensure our military families are treated with the respect they so richly deserve. In my capacity as a WWE ambassador, I have repeatedly heard: “It is the serviceperson who enlists, but the family who serves.” I’ve thought about this poignant statement in my duties. I’ve considered all the times a mom or dad and wife or husband must pack up a home, move to a new base, start their children in a new school, and cheerfully bring continuity and community to support their family structure. When I asked Peter Hartley, principal of Meadows Elementary, about the constant moves these families face, he explained that on average, five new families arrive or depart the school each and every week. Wow!

Think about that and how your family would feel about such imminent change. Most of us would consider this commitment to service “upheaval” — not our service families, though. Principal Hartley assured me that with the military infrastructure, staff, and above all, the understanding of what it takes to settle into a new community, they provide these families the support and welcome they deserve to adjust to their new homes.

Seeing the bright faces joining us at Meadows Elementary made our next stop all the more breathtaking. While one hangar housed a WWE Live Event, another was home to the workings of camouflage-clad elves. Walking into the building, our group was overwhelmed with the military precision of Santa’s Texas workshop! Neat rows of assembled bikes in every color and size created a sea of tires, fenders and handlebars for as far as the eye could see. Tom from Celebration of Love told us of his frustration in prior years of seeing “some kids getting a bike while others left disappointed.” Tom made it his solemn pledge that “every kid left with a bike” and looking over the horizon could see that special promise realized.

I dare anyone to look at the photos of linear stacked bicycles, and peering deeper, for those enlisted angels of assembly “test-driving them” in the distance and not get a lump in your throat. I imagine the joy each family feels opening the gifts so carefully selected and bagged alongside the shiny new bike. Every parent wants holiday magic for their kids. These organizations take it upon themselves to deliver a priceless symbol of a gratitude for our entire nation.

Tune in for a guaranteed “feel-good” experience as WWE plays with good girls and boys along with the great men and women of our military. Tribute to the Troops is an annual tradition reminding us of the true meaning of the holiday season, how much we have, and whom we genuinely need to thank.

Thank you, Fort Hood, for hosting and inspiring us. Thank you to every soldier who welcomed our giant crew. Thank you, Tom and Celebration of Love. Thank you for all the cheers and happy faces that greeted us! Tribute to the Troops is our way of saying thank you to the military nationwide.

We at WWE believe in the Awesome Excellence of our U.S. Military and thank you for your honor, service and sacrifice ... ALWAYS!!
Happy holidays with immense love from our family to YOURS! xo d

Make sure to join Total Warriors tonight, 8 p.m. ET at ultimatewarrior.com or iTunes for a special holiday edition with NXT Superstar, Steve Cutler and WWE Superstars Bayley and Titus O’Neil. 

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