Appreciating veterans: Civitan holds annual event for veterans
As they have for the past seven years, dozens of Durham veterans attended an appreciation luncheon held in their honor at the Friendly City Civitan Club on Glendale Avenue on Monday.
George Stephens, 94, a veteran of World War II and Korea, was there, and brought his visiting son, George Stephens Jr. The elder Stephens wore his Army uniform. As the veterans made their way into the building, they greeted each other with the common bond of service, fellow World War II veteran Bryan Turner, 87, shaking hands with Stephens.
Then came World War II veteran Tom Whaley and his son Doug Whaley, a Vietnam veteran, and both living in Durham. Korean War veteran Carlton Harrell was there, too, and World War II veteran John Umstead. And World War II veteran Grady Veasey, too. Then Cecil Chandler, Grover Glymph and Homer Riley – three more World War II veterans. In all, 43 veterans broke bread together with the Civitans. Most were WWII veterans, and most were Army.
Umstead said he thinks the annual luncheon is just wonderful.
“We’ve got a lot of older folks here who are really enjoying themselves,” he said.
Veasey said he loved it.
“I hope it can continue on. I enjoy it,” Veasey said.
“I think it’s good to honor the World War II veterans,” Harrell said.
Two WWII veterans who were guests in years past have died since the previous luncheon – Marine Bobby Lougee and Army veteran Bob Patton. Steve Brosnan, the Civitan member who started the annual appreciation, died last fall. Ray Eason, president of the club, said they’ve renamed it Steve Brosnan’s Veterans Appreciation Luncheon.
Todd Parrott, whose father Calvin Parrott is a Korean War veteran, entertained the guests with songs on his harmonica. Veterans joined in singing along to “Amazing Grace” and “God Bless America.” Each veteran also received a harmonica donated by Hohner, a harmonica company.
Marlene Jewell, governor-elect of the North Carolina District East Civitan, told the veterans that part of the Civitan creed is to make the world a better place, “and the world is a better place because of you guys.”
Bill Richardson, current governor of the Civitan district, is also a 23-year Army veteran and served in the infantry in Vietnam. Richardson said that he wanted to honor WWII veterans in particular, calling them the phrase coined by Tom Brokaw, “the greatest generation,” because “they saw the face of evil and defeated it worldwide.”
He challenged veterans to teach younger generations the lessons they learned in combat about how they survived because of the backing of their fellow soldiers and fellow citizens.
It’s important they make sure younger people understand their sacrifice, Richardson said, and commitment to each other.
Eason said that veterans “are living examples of what it means to be citizens.” He quoted Gen. George Patton: “Wars may be fought with weapons but they are won by men.”