The Alliance Church in Gilman hosted its eighth annual Veterans Appreciation banquet on Friday evening, Nov. 1. This banquet was enjoyed by scores of veterans from various eras including World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan. The Davis & Elkins College choir sang several inspiring songs to set the atmosphere for the evening. Two members of the choir wearing their Army uniforms recited "The Soldier's Creed." U.S. Air Force veteran Ward Warren's inspiring words about veterans serving their country and the sacrifice and hardships they endured touched the soul of everyone. He spoke of German prisoners in World War II and how an act of kindness in giving a drink of water to their wounded by an American medic was repaid by some of the captured German medics who rescued a wounded American soldier trapped under fire.
Pastor Mark Epperson's words of appreciation stirred emotions within all the veterans as they reflected upon their own years in uniform and lasting memories of lost friends on foreign soil. He recognized those who had been wounded in combat. Military theme songs were played by the "Just for Fun" community band as members of the military services in attendance stood to be recognized. Everyone standing was proud and this gave them time to remember some of their period of service and events they endured. Most had thoughts that cherished their association and lasting friendships of servicemen they served with many years ago. They had become close to men whose lives depended upon them and their own lives depended upon them. The comradeship of combat overshadows the friendships of a civilian.
The food was excellent and this brought smiles to those veterans who served in combat and remembered going countless months without a warm meal. The couple of hours in the church brought together veterans who thought their military service was just a right of passage from their youth into adulthood but the camaraderie they all shared during this banquet invoked sincere gratitude and appreciation from everyone.
Their military service was important as it helped maintain freedom so that we could enjoy an evening among friends. Their personal sacrifice meant something and they were proud to be veterans, and most importantly, proud to be Americans. Most of the veterans are in their twilight years and being recognized by a non-military group leaves a lasting impact on each of them. The veterans were honored and all shared in the feeling of being privileged, being someone special and mere words of "thanks" seem inadequate for the wonderful time these veterans had. I am sure these words could easily be expressed by any of the veterans who attended the Veterans Appreciation banquet given by Pastor Mark Epperson and the church family of Alliance Church. I write this for everyone who attended and extend our appreciation that the area veterans are not forgotten.