The heart of war: Auburn Home Show provides opportunity for troop tributes

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - Don’t be surprised if tears are shed on both sides of the camera lens as the Auburn Home Show this weekend gives people a chance to make a video “Salute to the Troops.” Video producer Brian Roat of Auburn’s AboutHere.TV has a daughter deployed less than a month ago aboard the U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier John C. Stennis for her second Persian Gulf tour in a year. For Roat, it will mean that his 24-year-old daughter, Rochael will not be home for Christmas for a third straight year as she serves her country. Roat, who grows unapologetically teary eyed at the thought, said he knows that the emotions will be flowing this weekend as he records messages from parents and other loved ones directed at service personnel past and present at a new free, Home Show feature dubbed “Salute to the Troops.” “It’s just going to be an expression of appreciation for troops and family members,” Roat said. “We’re trying to give people a voice.” Lasting about 45 seconds, the videos will be shot at a booth inside the Sierra Building at the Home Show, which is taking place Friday through Sunday at the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn. Roat said the booth is being set up in a spirit of “sharing the love,” with a digital file being created and posted on YouTube. About 20,000 to 25,000 people are expected by event organizer Auburn Home Shows to flood the fairgrounds over the three days, many having military connections. Home Show producer Lani Johnston said Wednesday that the idea of having a “Salute to the Troops” indoor studio setup with camera equipment to record individual and family greetings came after Roat expressed his own sadness about his daughter’s holiday absences. “We started talking about reaching out to others and it went from there to this,” Johnston said. “I know a lot of people who are supportive of the troops and it’s something we can do.” Johnston said she’ll be having her own salute filmed. “I’m definitely saying thank you,” Johnston said. “And to come home safe.” Roat said that he’s hoping the expressions of empathy, appreciating and encouragement will be viewed by the troops targeted in the video clips and inspire them to look forward to coming home. There will be a box of tissues handy. “They’ll be for me as much as the people in front of the camera,” Roat said. “I get teary every time I talk about it. And my heart goes out to people missing that part of their life.”