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From Him Much Will Be Required: A Gift Given, Veterans Included

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Luke 12:48: ...For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required....

With all is going on right now in the veterans community (VA Employees "Find" 700 Vital Documents During "Amnesty" At New York Office; Out Of Harm's Way: VBA Promotion Sends Wrong Message; VA's Expedited Claims: Not What It Appears To Be; to mention just three) it's sometimes easy to forget that there are those who haven't forgotten. Earl W. Stafford is one of those who remembers.

The Benefactor of the Ball

Virginia Man Spends $1 Million on Inaugural Package for Disadvantaged - Washington Post - (

). It was billed as the biggest, most eye-popping of the inauguration hotel packages: the JW Marriott's $1 million "build-your-own-ball" offer. You get 300 rooms, four suites, $200,000 worth of food and drink, and a primo site overlooking the Pennsylvania Avenue parade route. And it was snapped up within hours of Barack Obama's election as president by Earl W. Stafford, who wants to bring to the inauguration disadvantaged people, terminally ill patients, wounded soldiers and others down on their luck. For them he will provide lodging, food and special access, as well as beauticians, gowns and tuxedos, if necessary.

Stafford paid $1 million, and is prepared to spend $600,000 more for a breakfast, a luncheon and two balls at the hotel.

"We wanted to . . . bless those who otherwise wouldn't have an opportunity to be a part of the great celebration, the inauguration and the festivities." "Our objective is to bring in a cross-section of society -- those who are distressed, those who are terminally ill, those who are socially and economically disadvantaged, those veterans who are wounded and served our country."

"The People's Inauguration," as Stafford calls it, is scheduled to unfold Jan. 18, 19 and 20, with lodging all three nights.

In addition to providing the hotel, Stafford plans a prayer breakfast there the morning of the 19th -- Martin Luther King Jr. Day -- and a luncheon that day. The next day, Inauguration Day, a youth ball is planned at the hotel, as well as a "People's Inaugural Ball."

Stafford Is A Retired Air Force Officer

Stafford grew up in Mount Holly, N.J., across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, where his father was a minister at the Second Baptist Church. He served for many years in the Air Force, where he was an air traffic controller, and said he gets chills when he hears the national anthem.

--- Regards, Walt Schmidt