PALESTINE — Community members made sure Friday was a day that would live, not in infamy, but in honor and appreciation for local Anderson County veterans during the Palestine Police Department's second annual veterans breakfast.
The Palestine Civic Center was wall-to-wall patriotism with red-white-and-blue artworks, essays and poems from several schools adorning the walls, as veterans enjoyed breakfast Friday morning.
“I am very impressed,” U.S. Navy veteran and Palestine resident Tom LeMay said. “This is very heartwarming. I missed the first one, but I'm definitely making sure I'm here for the rest of them.”
U.S. Army veteran David Henderson agreed and said, “I've enjoyed myself very much.”
Henderson's tablemate and U.S. Navy vet Jack Barrett chimed in, “Best of all is the company!”
World War II veteran Laura Lorraine Sparkman, who served overseas at Normandy during her service, said, “I've enjoyed being here. Everything is so nice.”
PPD officers and other city staff, along with volunteers from all over the county served breakfast as both current and former military personnel enjoyed the morning program, which included patriotic concerts from the Palestine Middle School choir and Palestine High School band and a dramatic skit performed by another group of Palestine Middle schoolers.
“I took off work to be here,” said Lesia Fuller, who was volunteering as a server for the morning. “That's how important it is to me to let our vets know they are not forgotten. It's such a tiny way to pay them back for everything they have and still do for us.”
Guest speakers who recognized the local vets included Brigadier General, 36th Infantry Division Samuel Lee Henry and Sgt. 1st Class Brian Jamison. Special recognition was also given to Palestine veteran Woodrow Watts, who turned 101 on March 23. Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3709 Ladies Auxiliary members also recognized local Blue and Gold Star families.
Members of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 991 presented veterans Lawrence Irwin and Palestine Police Chief Robert Herbert with American flags, in recognition of their service to the United States.
“Thank you so much,” Irwin said after accepting his flag to a standing ovation. “Thank you.”
Sponsors for the breakfast include the City of Palestine, Brookshire's grocery store, Chip's Burger Ranch, Denny's, Sonic, Dairy Queen, Taco Bell, Veteran's Historic Education Center, Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary, Veteran's Service Center, Walmart. PAACO, Jordan Home Health, the Knights of Columbus, Dogwood Trails Assisted Living, Encompass Home Health, DME & Grace Home Health Services, the Palestine Economic Development Corp., Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3907 and Ladies Auxiliary, Palestine Middle School drama class, Palestine Middle School choir, Palestine High School band and the Palestine High School culinary class.
“We want to thank everyone for all their support and hard work in making this come together today,” Chief Herbert said. “We're going to need a bigger place to do this next year!”