SOUTH PORTLAND (AP) – The owner of one of Maine’s largest commercial real estate firms will hold a holiday party for military families across the state, and it’s not reserved for those recently returned from Iraq.

Joseph Boulos said all military members and their families are invited, whether that be a spouse of a National Guard member who is now in Kuwait or a sailor who is expecting to have to leave Maine soon for destinations unknown.

He has dubbed the event the “Next Greatest Generation Tribute.”

“We just want to tell these people they’re not alone,” said Boulos, owner and chief executive officer of CB Richard Ellis/The Boulos Company in Portland.

A Marine pilot in Vietnam, Boulos said he didn’t like the way soldiers were treated when they returned from that war, and he said he worries about comparison being made between Vietnam and Iraq.

“People are starting to call this a Vietnam. The least we can do is not treat these soldiers the way they were treated in the 60s,” he said.

Boulos plans to transform a 50,000-square-foot retail building he owns with his brother into a venue for the party.

Some of the details are still being ironed out, but there are plans for a color guard, music, children’s activities and games.

There will be booths where families can videotape a message to their loved ones overseas. The messages will be converted to digital form and delivered to families via the Internet.

Boulos’ effort has been warmly received by those involved with the military.

“It’s just so nice. It’s overwhelming,” said Linda Newbegin, volunteer coordinator for the Maine National Guard. “We were kind of worried that (concern) would die down a bit after the fellows were away for awhile, but it hasn’t.”

According to the Defense Department, 1,194 Mainers were deployed as of the end of September. More than half of those are from reserve forces.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.