Nov. 24, 2004
|Photo Courtesy American Forces Information Services
Fleming, 15, presents President George W. Bush with the one-millionth
letter of thanks that she collected for U.S. troops.
A UMNS Feature
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
Shauna Fleming has had an interesting few days.
has met the president of the United States, the secretary of defense,
received a “Born to Lead” award and posed for a photo in Cosmo Girl,
appeared live on CNN, had film crews from CBS in her house, and met
with book publishers about the printing of her first book.
When she has time, she also attends Lutheran High School in Orange, Calif.
15, a member of Light of the Canyon United Methodist Church
in Anaheim, has been in the middle of a whirlwind since last April,
when she took seriously a challenge from her father to collect a
million letters to send to military troops. She achieved her goal on
Oct. 22 and is working on getting another 400,000 letters.
are 1.4 million troops on active duty right now,” she explains. “I want
to get enough letters to send to every one of them.”
presented the one-millionth letter to President George Bush on Nov. 17,
just moments after he pardoned the national Thanksgiving turkey.
is a wonderful, self-assured person with a quiet confidence,” says the
Rev. Tom Rothhaar, pastor of Light of the Canyon. “She is a deeply
Michael Fleming, Shauna’s father, sent an e-mail to Rothhaar, which the pastor read during the Nov. 20 worship service.
message was: “Shauna and our family had an opportunity of a lifetime,
meeting the president in the Oval Office for almost 15 minutes. He
mentioned he was United Methodist and we said we are too. He spoke of
his belief in God and how God leads him in difficult decisions.”
Chuckling, Rothhaar says that before they left, Shauna slipped the
president an invitation to visit Light of the Canyon.
pastor has been so supportive of me,” she tells United Methodist News
Service. “Two or three times a month, I get a note from him or someone
in the church telling me how proud they are of me.”
A Million Thanks letter campaign has brought the teenager a lot of
attention from national publications, and she has been on radio and
television programs, Rothhaar says. She has been named one of the top 10
“movers and shakers” in Orange and is the national spokesperson for
National Military Appreciation Month, May 2005.
has just taken off,” he says. “When people hear about it, they are so
intrigued because she is only 15 years old. Think about where most of us
were when we were 15; we weren’t thinking in these terms.”
mother, Robin, says she is not surprised her daughter has been able to
meet her goal because “she has always done everything 110 percent.” But
she is surprised at the attention Shauna has received from so many
has grown so much,” Robin says. “I feel so blessed that God has led her
on this path and allowed her to put smiles on soldiers’ faces.”
says that is what it is all about. “It is so important to let our
troops know we are thinking about them and praying for them,” she says.
“I have grown closer to God through this experience. I have learned to
trust and have faith.”
she started the campaign, she memorized Romans 8:28. “I say it over and
over again: We know that all things work together for good for those
who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”
recalls that Bible verse every time something out of the ordinary
happens. The passage reminds her that God really does have a plan for
her, she says.
“I have been waiting for a calling all of my life, and I definitely think this is part of it.”
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.