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Will dancing veterans make America smile again?

    Wednesday, January 10, 2018 -- (Hollywood, CA) -- Since January 20th marks last year’s hand-off of keys to the White House, the date begs the question of who can make America smile again.

    Perhaps Hollywood will again offer a splashy show of how to raise the nation’s morale.

    "Pin-Ups for Vets" – an award-winning non-profit founded in 2006 – will perform their 12th-annual Hollywood show and sell a calendar with beautiful smiling faces of honor to raises money for disabled veterans and deployed troops.

    "Americans know how to smile, but we don’t laugh much anymore," said Billy Orton, a novelist and politician, who is buying a ticket and catching the train to watch female veterans sing and dance at a packed historic hall in Hollywood.

    Now on a 50-state tour, "Pin-Ups for Vets" is performing at the American Legion Post 43, at 2035 Highland Avenue, in North Hollywood. Built a century ago, the site’s original members were "Doughboys" who served in General John J. Pershing’s U.S. Expeditionary Force, and who together turned the tide on a brutal global conflict known simply as "The Great War."

    Meanwhile on January 20th, thousands will march across downtown Los Angeles for a massive protest that starts in Pershing Square, the park dedicated for the growing young city to honor those who served in what now is called "World War One."

    So why would a politician who won’t be introduced or speak on a microphone skip a massive rally to instead catch a train and hand off business cards at a song-and-dance show?

    "Everybody’s got opinions in a free country, so some can march and others will dance," said Orton, who is happily shelling out twenty bucks and catching Metro for three hours each way, just to be one face in a cheering crowd.

    The writer is not connected to the non-profit, and indeed no longer belongs to a major party. After spending decades working as a press secretary for Democratic elected officials and a PR hack for organized labor and political candidates, Orton exited the Democratic party last year and is the only registered member of "Party of Grace," a group that technically does not exist.

    Americans can disagree about the last three presidents -- or all of them -- but no one can question the contribution of "Pin-Ups for Vets," since they’ve raised $58,000 for hospitalized veterans and deployed troops. This year’s calendar features 21 veterans.

    Donations fund VA and military hospitals for equipment and program expansion. Members also make bedside visits to deliver gifts, promote hospital volunteerism, and support military spouses, including delivery of care packages to deployed troops.

    The January 20th WWII-style song-and-dance show starts at 8 pm and also included two local groups – the "Beverly Belles" and the "Honey Taps." The modestly priced tickets are getting snapped up, but veterans can get a free seat.

    And the politician? The writer will be just one more cheering soul, for a group that has made 11,000 veterans at 64 hospitals and veteran homes smile again.

    Shaking hands echos the Chinese proverb, that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

    The non-profit’s website is http://www.PinUpsForVets.com, and advance ticket sales are at https://pinups.brownpapertickets.com.

    The political party that does not actually exist is at http://www.partyofgrace.org.

   

-- Billy Orton.








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Billy Orton is a novelist and historian living in Long Beach, California.