The thing about Winchester is it really feels like home. Friendly neighbors who all know each other. Parades and annual celebrations that bring people together. Where the past is preserved yet there’s still room for something new — like us. From the first day MISSION BBQ set foot in town, we felt like family.

In fact, even BEFORE our first day of business, this generous community came out to support three separate pre-opening charity events. $3214 was raised for the Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore USO, $2530 benefitted the Winchester Frederick County Law Enforcement Foundation, and $1125 went to the Winchester Fire and Rescue Foundation. Throughout the year, our loyal customers who bought Hometown Heroes Cups also helped us raise $4812 for the Winchester City Sheriff's Foundation.

So it was been a warm welcome! Since then, we’ve done our best to return the favor: When US Army National Guard Unit HHC 3-116 returned from deployment, it was our honor to feed over 75 soldiers and their families at the Homecoming. We were also eager to support a variety of local events such as the annual Apple Blossom Festival — including feeding Firefighters from all across the country who came to participate in its parade. They’re our Heroes and it was treat to also help them during Trick or Treating with the Fire Department and a Firetruck Rodeo.

On a more solemn but equally important note, we were proud to support a memorial ceremony at Boulder Crest Retreat —the nation's first privately-funded rural wellness center dedicated exclusively to combat veterans and their families. Many of our Teammates also helped lay wreaths on the headstones of fallen Heroes as part of Wreaths Across America in December. When US Marshall Patrick Carothers was laid to rest after his tragic death while on duty, we humbly fed grieving family members. Just as we did for the family of WWII Flying Tigers Veteran Peter Atkinson, whose remains were finally found and interred 76 years after crashing in Burma.

So yes, family matters. Whether they are members of The Greatest Generation like WWII Veteran pilot Jack Einstein who visits regularly and is honored on our walls (and still flies his helicopter!). Or the many active military serving our country from the Army Corps of Engineers and other nearby facilities. Or the local Sheriff, Fire Chiefs and leaders in the Emergency Responder community. And, of course, all those children whose parents bring them here for their first taste of homemade BBQ.

Our roots may be different and branch out in different directions. But when we all rise as one, especially each day during our salute to the National Anthem, it is an honor to be part of this American family tree.

Submitted by Jessie Ash,Community Ambassador, Winchester VA MISSION BBQ

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