Monday, June 13, 2016

Veterans invited to appreciation luncheon

One of the community's strongest supporters of veterans and her church congregation want to say thanks to local veterans with a luncheon later this month.

Eleven years ago, Rev. Lucy Tedrick organized an appreciation banquet that drew more than 300 Crittenden County veterans and their spouses to the high school multi-purpose room. But with a dwindling veteran population in the county, she's not expecting as many at the luncheon planned for Saturday, June 25.

"What we are trying to do is just show the veterans how much we appreciate them," said Tedrick, pastor of Marion Church of God. "We want to show them how much we love them before it's too late."

The free noon meal will take place at the church's family center, which seats about 100. Anyone who has worn – or is wearing – the uniform is invited to attend along with their spouses. The center is located on Fords Ferry Road.

In 2005, there were about a thousand veterans living in Crittenden County, scores were from the World War II era. With the Greatest Generation fading, the U.S. Department for Veterans Affairs estimates that total number has fallen to 685, with only two dozen or so World War II veterans remaining. Today, Vietnam and peacetime veterans make up the majority of that shrinking population.

Tedrick, 86, has her own sense of urgency for showing appreciation to those who have served in the armed forces.

"I want to get this done before the Lord calls me home," she said.

Veterans have held a special place in Tedrick's heart since she was a teenager. She was only 12 when World War II broke out for the United States, but she recalls vividly how it affected her.

"I remember standing in the yard crying because our men were dying," she said. "It's always touched my heart. It's always been a heartache."

After traveling the world as an adult, she saw some of the places where Americans died in battle during the war which affected her life so deeply. She felt many of those places were not worth the toll of war.

"That's why I try to help the veterans," she said.

She wants to be clear that her church family is as much to thank for the appreciation dinner.

"I couldn't do any of this if it weren't for the people at the church helping," she explained.

Reservations are required by Thursday to attend the June 25 luncheon in order to give organizers an idea of how much food to prepare. If the number of veterans in the county and their spouses planning to attend exceeds the capacity of the church's family center, Tedrick said a second round of meals could be served an hour or so later.

Conrad's Food Store will be catering the luncheon, with desserts and drinks offered by members of the church congregation.

To reserve a spot, those planning to attend should call Tedrick at (270) 965-3269 or Bill and Marlene James at (270) 965-2931.