The crowd stood front and center facing the American Flag that hung from the rafters of Hangar #36 at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. Then the band began singing the National Anthem, a song I’ve heard and sung countless times, at ballgames and on many other occasions. But this time was different. This time I was surrounded by members of all branches of the U.S. Military. They were in uniform and standing at attention, facing the flag of a Country they love and vow to protect.

This was a very proud moment for me. The Atlas family was there to honor them and to thank them for all that they do to keep us safe and defend our freedom. It was a small thing in the scheme of global events, but it meant so much.

This was the 9th Annual Base Party hosted by Atlas Cares, the philanthropic arm of Atlas Oil Company. When we started the party nine years ago, it was small – just a couple hundred Marines. And then we expanded each year, extending the invitation to additional military branches. This year we hosted nearly 3,000 service men and women and their families. Many of our customers and suppliers got involved by donating items or services and our employees got involved in a big way. We had more than 100 employees at the event – helping kids with crafts, passing out gifts and serving up a hot meal and lots of entertainment.

We all had fun, but the smiles on the faces of our military and especially their children were heartwarming. Earlier that day, I also was honored to attend a Welcome Home celebration for 400 men and women who returned from deployment to their families.

I was also honored to receive a Legion of Merit Medal Ribbon from the Michigan National Guard for our company’s commitment to the men and women who serve in the Michigan Air National Guard.

For all those who are still deployed this holiday season, our thoughts and prayers are with you. We wish you a Happy Holiday and a safe trip home soon.

And to all of the men and women of our Military, we at Atlas Oil thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Sam Simon