Veterans Appreciation Banquet is a success

The Alliance Church in Gilman held its 13th annual Veterans Appreciation Banquet on Nov 1.

This banquet was enjoyed by scores of veterans from various eras including Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan. During the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the National Anthem, it provided those in attendance an opportunity to reflect on these events during their period of military service.

During the program portion of the banquet, veterans and their guests watched in rapt and attentive silence as Pastor Mark Epperson quietly sat bowed and alone on a stool, then faced an empty chair at a small table and engaged in a poignant monologue that simulated conversations with three veterans — his deceased father-in-law and father and an unknown World War II veteran in his 90s — about their lives, their reasons for joining the military and the hardships they faced while serving their country in the Armed Forces. Pastor Mark eloquently voiced one by one the veterans’ reflections of serving at various military duty stations, of being separated from loved ones, and of the strong brotherhood bonds formed among those in military service.

His words and unique presentation touched the soul of everyone and 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 spoke of veterans being examples for others and setting the standard for service.

Military theme songs were played 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 military service of generations of veterans maintained our country’s 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 food was excellent and this brought warm smiles to those veterans who had served in combat as they 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 rite of passage from their youth into adulthood but the camaraderie they all shared during this banquet invoked sincere gratitude and appreciation from everyone. The veterans were honored and all shared in the feeling of being privileged and being someone special. Mere words of “thanks” seem inadequate for the gratitude for the wonderful time these veterans had at the Veterans Appreciation banquet given by Pastor Mark and the church family of Alliance Church.

Roger Ware