MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — What began as an event to honor the National Guard’s Red Bulls has evolved into a celebration honoring all branches of the Armed Forces.

On Sunday, North Branch was the site of Military Appreciation Day. Young and old turned out to help raise money to support the men and women in uniform, serving across the globe.

The group, “Citizens Supporting Our Armed Forces,” has held this event for years.

“They are in Afghanistan, Iraq and all over the world. They are fighting for our freedom and this is one way we can give back to our country, “said Glen Tipton.

Citizens Supporting Our Armed Forces puts this gathering together yearly.

From bouncy houses to a mobile military museum that features relics from wars past, this appreciation day goes way beyond a salute and a hand shake.

“Everything here is designed for a purpose the silent auction the car show the cars come in and they register and that’s all to raise money to ship care packages to deployed troops,” Tipton said.

Event Chairperson Glen Tipton says CSOAF has shipped over five tons of materials to 35 units in four different conflict or war zones. And for all those that help, there is a lesson tied to the giving.

“Hopefully gains some appreciation for the freedoms they have,” volunteer Bruce Holzschuhv said.

No one knows that more than 17-year-old Absey Wilhelmy. She wrote a song (featured in video report) when she was 12 years old and her father was in the middle of the war zone in Iraq.

Wilhemy says she uses her talent to honor the men and women who wear the uniform. Others see it as confirmation that the next generation understands why our fighting men and women are true heroes.

“There’s hope for this country. We have a lot of great kids around and they are very patriotic,” Tipton said.

With thousands of military personal across the globe, Tipton says one way average Americans can help is to get involved in one of several military support groups. He says it lets them know America has not forgotten them and supports their sacrifice.

Reg Chapman