Thursday, December 20, 2012
Holiday event lifts spirits of servicemen
By SUE WATSON
The Byhalia Lions Club and numerous sponsors were on hand to say “thank you to our soldiers” at the annual holiday season banquet, begun by Ronnie and Brenda Luther and the Clydesdale Christmas Store.
The Lions Club has taken over the festive event, which provides a sit-down dinner for veterans and Mississippi National Guardsmen and their families from the Holly Springs/Hernando unit.
Guests were treated to smoked pork loin and chicken, beans, dressing, potato salad, rolls and sweets.
Children were entertained by balloon lady Kook Vescovi and by Mr. Nick, the magician. Musical entertainment was provided by Joedy White and Josh Dowling.
In prefacing remarks before veterans were honored with awards and gifts, Ronnie Luther thanked soldiers for what they do for the community and the sacrifices they make or have made in service to our country.
“Because of your sacrifices, we are able to enjoy everything we do,” he said.
Chris Podewils, with the Lions Club, also thanked servicemen.
“This is for you and your family and the sacrifices you make every day knowing you could be deployed tomorrow,” he said.
Lt. Col. W.D. Fitts III spoke of the warrior’s life before he said prayer.
“I am a Cold War warrior – Vietnam,” he said. “You guys are fighting a new kind of enemy now in the Middle East.”
He recognized the Greatest Generation – servicemen who fought in World War II.
A moment of silence was held in memory of those who were attacked in Pearl Harbor – the day remembered as December 7.
“We are so blessed to live in this country,” he said. “Not any of them are drafted now. Our freedom is a direct result of your forebears who went before us.”
The man believed to be the oldest veteran in the county, Adrain Rose, 97, served in World War II in the South Solomon Islands near Guadalcanal. He served with the U.S. Navy for two and a half years.
William Ellis served in the Army in World War II on Guam and Saipan. He was accompanied by his grandson Billy Ellis, who is serving in the Mississippi Guard.
Doug Hollowell, with Doughboy Pools in Olive Branch, gave away another $6,000 value pool this year to the lucky serviceman whose ticket was drawn.
Lt. Col. John Rhodes provided some gifts to Lions and also recognized Guardsman Stephen Paul for special service.
Rhodes said the Mississippi Guard is community-based.
“When we deploy, you (the community) deploy,” he said.
He recognized several National Guard retirees who are members of the Byhalia Lions with certificates of appreciation.
About 100 guardsmen and their families were served at the celebration. Each serviceman was presented with a gift.
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