Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

Local News

October 31, 2012

Military vets, families recognized at Nov. 1-4 appreciation event

JACKSONVILLE — A variety of events recognizing military members and veterans are planned throughout Cherokee County during the next two weeks.

The Lone Star Military and First Responders Appreciation Event will be held Thursday through Sunday, Nov. 1-4, at the K.E. Bushman Event Center on U.S. Highway 69 in Bullard.

“The purpose is to celebrate and honor our military, and to also bridge the gap between military and civilian populations,” said Julianne Sanford, a local veterans advocate who is helping coordinate the event.

“What we're trying to do is provide ways for civilians to reach out to the military population and for the military population to successfully reintegrate (into civilian life).”

An opening day ride will be held 3 p.m. Thursday, with motorcyclists gathering at the Bill McRae Lincoln Ford dealership in Jacksonville. The group will travel to various spots in the county, as well as to Palestine, before heading back to the Bushman Center, where a welcome band will be playing.

Schools are invited to attend Friday's events, which feature a war re-enactment and the display of a  Vietnam Veterans Wall Memorial replica sponsored by the American Veterans Traveling Tribute.

Retired U.S. Marshal Drew Author will address law enforcement agents, firefighters and emergency first responders during a 6 p.m. opening ceremony Friday. An 8 p.m. candlelight ceremony concludes the day's events.

On Saturday, a flyover by a B1 bomber from Dyess Air Force Base kicks off the 10:30 a.m. opening ceremonies. Events include recognition of, and honoring, Gold Star Families, re-enactment skirmishes, an MIA/POW/KIA ceremony presented by local Korean war veterans, a static helicopter display and a flag retirement ceremony.

Ret. Army Major Ed Pulido will deliver Saturday's keynote address at 6 p.m., discussing his organization, “Folds of Honor,” which awards scholarships to families of wounded and fallen soldiers.

Texas State Guard Brigadier General Dr. Luís Fernandez of Tyler, Ricky Richards of Texas Lawyers for TX Veterans, JD Collett, a military peer specialist from the Andrews Center in Tyler and Vietnam veteran photographer Robert “Bob” Spangler also will give presentations Saturday.

In addition to guest speakers, the military appreciation event features special symposiums on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder/Traumatic Brain Injury/Military Culture – led from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday by Dr. Charles Walker of the University of Texas Health Science Center's neuro-restorative center in Tyler – and a 2:30-5:30 p.m. Military Farming Symposium led Saturday by a speaker with the Texas A&M University Agribility program.

Registration is required for the symposiums, Sanford said. For more information or to volunteer, contact her at 903-810-0303 or email cjsan06@aol.com.

Vendors will be onsite Saturday, providing information about military resources and organizations, as well as Veterans Service Officers to help military members and their famlies with claims.

Live music will be performed throughout the day by a Texas National Guard marching band, as well as by musicians Paul Ruark, Gerald Salzarulo, Caitlyn Brette, Taylor Heard and Air Force Staff Sgt. Marcus Ochoa and Band.

The McRae dealership will sponsor a “drive one for your community” event, and will donate $20 to Lone Star Military Resources for every person who test drives a vehicle, Sandford said.

“The proceeds will go to support vets in our local area,” she said.

On Sunday, Texas National Guard Chaplain Patrick Maae will lead a 10:30 a.m. outdoor field chapel service, with music led by the Cornerstone Church of Tyler. Praise teams and choirs will compete in a “praise-off,” with winners announced at 3:30 p.m., Sandford said.

Other military recognition events in the county include:

The Bullard Chamber of Commerce will host the Red, White and Blue Festival Saturday. The 2012 Miss Armed Forces winner will take part in the 10 a.m. parade that kicks off festivities that include family entertainment, food, vendors, amusements and a car show.

In Rusk, fourth- and fifth-grade students at the local intermediate school will host a Veteran's Breakfast from 7:30 – 8:30 a.m. Nov. 9.

During the month of November, the AARP Driver Safety Program is offering free driving safety classes to military veterans and active duty members, including National Guard and Reserves.

These classes will be held in Tyler, Whitehouse, Lindale, Jacksonville and Rusk, at a cost of $12 for AARP members and $14 for non-members. Contact Randy Vanderstay, 903-752-0240, for more information.

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