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the students about the importance of honoring the military.
Then, at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, the DVA hosted the annual “Veterans Day Luncheon,” during which the organization used music and flag presentations to honor veterans in attendance. The local JROTC Thunderbolt Regiment posted the colors at the beginning of the ceremony and Luther Wardlaw sang the “National Anthem.” The local Veterans of Foreign Wars post acknowledged veterans from each military branch as they showcased each flag from the United States Marines, Navy, Coast Guard, Army, Air Force, and Space Force.
DVA Executive Director Tonya Parker also spoke at the event, explaining the empty table which had been set up to memorialize those missing in action.
“We are certainly grateful for everyone here today, but we must remember those that are not,” she emphasized. “This table to my right honors the men and women who serve in America’s Armed Forces. The table is round to show our everlasting devotion and concern for our fallen and missing comrades. The cloth is white, symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to duty. The single red rose displayed in a vase reminds us of the life and the blood that was shed, and of loved ones and friends who keep the faith as they await answers. The vase is tied with a red ribbon – a symbol of our commitment and continued determination to account for those missing. A slice of lemon on the plate is to remind us of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in a foreign land. The salt is to remind us of the tears endured by those missing and their families, who still seek answers.”
She continued, “The black napkin is a reminder of the isolation, deprivation, and cruel fate for our missing. The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God. The glass is inverted to symbolize their inability to share this evening with us. The chair is empty and tilted – they are not here, and thus, the chair will remain until they are here or accounted for. You are not forgotten; so long as there is one left, your memory remains.”
The attendees submitted their names for a host of door prizes which had been donated to the event by various businesses. Volunteers served each attendee with a meal, while George Holcomb entertained the audience with tunes that celebrated patriotism and the American spirit such as, “Where the Stars and Stripes and Eagles Fly” by Aaron Tippin and “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Ole Days)” by The Judds.
Several veterans shared their appreciation of the event, and one veteran anonymously emphasized the importance of attending these celebrations. “As a veteran, I appreciate that people take the time to honor us – but I think we as veterans could do a better job at appreciating these people. It is important that we come to these events and participate when the community wants to show us their gratitude,” he explained.
Both events were described as a success by their organizers, who said they are excited to hold the annual ceremonies again next year.