More than 200 Veterans and family members attended the 10th Annual Veterans Appreciation Day hosted by Apex Bank at the National Guard Armory in Camden on Thursday, November 7.
After welcoming remarks by Apex Bank’s Rod Sturdivant and Marcus Vine, the veterans enjoyed a dinner of fish and chicken while Hannah Thompson played music on the harp.
Mike Lawler, Adjutant of Camden Post 102 of the American Legion, explained while all Veterans are worthy of being honored, this is a time of commemorating the Vietnam War and those who bravely fought in it. Lawler said, “We are proud partners with The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration! This national Commemoration was authorized by Congress, established under the Secretary of Defense, and will continue until Veterans Day of 2025. Its primary purpose … to thank and honor Vietnam Veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice.”
He continued, “Today, we join thousands of communities throughout this Nation in doing just that. For those who may not be aware, The Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017 established the 29th of March, in perpetuity, as a national day to recognize the previously unsung patriotism of our Vietnam veterans. So, National Vietnam War Veterans Day joined the six-other annual, military-centric, national observances codified in law; among them … Memorial Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day.”
Special speaker, 1st Lieutenant Andrew brown shared his service and thanked the Veterans from wars of many generations for their sacrifices.
Three World War II Veterans joined in the celebration, including, Hanford Brook, 98, Joe Whitworth, 93, and Ralph Rogers, 94. Rogers was also a POW during the war.
More than 40 Vietnam Veterans stood as they were recognized and the occasion was sealed with a photo.
Lawler finished with, “The Department of Defense lists the number who served during this period as 9 million. This number reflects the fact that our national Commemoration honors everyone who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces from November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975. No distinction is being made between Veterans who served in-country, in-theater, or who were stationed elsewhere during the Vietnam War period. All were called to serve, none could self-determine where they were stationed, and all were seen in the same way by a country that could not separate the war from the warrior. Each person who served during this period deserves our profound thanks.”
Community Banking President Marcus Vine said this was one of the most important events that Apex Bank does each year. “We cannot thank these heroes enough for their service to our country. I just hope by honoring them annually, they see what they mean to this country and our Benton County community.”