Holiday for Heroes


Premiered December 16 on PBS.

check local listings

For most, the holiday season is a time of celebration, spending time with family and friends, observing age-old traditions and enjoying favorite foods. For members of the military, the holidays can be particularly emotional, especially when they are stationed thousands of miles away from home, or are overcoming injuries from their service.

In the uplifting special, Lidia Celebrates America: Holiday for Heroes, Lidia meets with veterans who reflect on their service. Each discusses their longing to be reunited with family during holidays, the challenges and sacrifices of their work, and the pride they take in having defended our country. Together, they create a distinct image of the diversity of the United States military.


Meet the Heroes

Yonas Hagos

Yonas Hagos

Yonas Hagos came to the USA from a refugee camp in Sudan at 10 years-old. Video & More

Marlene Rodriguez

Marlene Rodriguez.

Marlene Rodriguez is one of only 500 women to be awarded the Purple Heart. Video & More

Bryan Anderson

Bryan Anderson

Bryan Anderson served two tours of duty in Iraq before he lost both legs and his left hand to an IED. Video & More

Willie Sherrer

Willie Sherrer

Willie Sherrer struggled after leaving the military, but today he owns a barbeque enterprise. Video & More

August Dannehl

August Dannehl

August Dannehl joined the Navy after September 11th, and is now a filmmaker and a chef. Video & More

Bob Woodruff

Bob Woodruff

Covering the Iraq war, Bob was injured by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in 2006. Video & More

As a firm believer that food is the tie that binds us together, Lidia uses her unique gift to bridge cultures, creating a link between the military and civilian lives of our five subjects. As she talks with each veteran, Lidia uncovers what foods mean ‘home’ to them, from Marlene’s mother’s lasagna to Willie’s father’s brisket. As Lidia prepares these dishes with the veterans, she taps into their love for home and country.


Life After the Military

“As I travel the country meeting veterans from all the military branches, I hear mind blowing stories, experience some tears, but also feel real hope and promise,” says Bastianich. “Our veterans and active duty soldiers deserve our utmost respect and appreciation all year long, but especially during the holidays when life can be more challenging for them.”

Life After MilitaryVideo: Watch as veterans talk about the challenges of life after the military, and more.


Explore Resources for Veterans


Go Behind the Scenes

Lidia & Bob

Slideshow: Go behind the scenes with Lidia, on the set of Holiday for Heroes!


Lidia in Norfolk“I was happy, and honored, to share a holiday meal with [our veterans], and we are happy to share Lidia Celebrates America: Holiday for Heroes with you this holiday season.”


Additional PBS Resources for Veterans

Stories of Service Logo

Veterans Coming Home Logo

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