Premiered December 16, 2016 on PBS.
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 emotional and uplifting film, Lidia Celebrates America: Holiday for Heroes, Lidia meets with seven 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.
Behind the Scenes: Holiday for Heroes
Lidia Celebrates America: Holiday for Heroes culminates with a celebratory holiday dinner at Naval Station Norfolk, the world’s largest naval base, where Lidia cooks for 250 active duty Navy troops aboard the USS George Washington. Joining Lidia on deck is her good friend Bob Woodruff – the acclaimed ABC news anchor injured by an IED in Iraq. Bob and Lidia sit down with the active service men and women, as well as the featured veterans, breaking bread and reflecting on good times, hard times and the pride and love in between.
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.
“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. I was happy, and honored, to share a holiday meal with them, and we are happy to share Lidia Celebrates America: Holiday for Heroes with you this holiday season.”