Vero Beach Elks Lodge #1774 came out in mass to say “Thank You” to our heroes for serving our country and protecting OUR freedom! While we as Elks recognize, honor, and thank ALL our veterans, this year’s program focused on a special thanks to the veterans of the Korean (1950-1953) and Vietnam (1964-1975) wars.
Southeast Central District Past Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler Jack Houlihan, our very own, opened the event with interesting and colorful comments and introduced Exalted Ruler Donna Knerr and Veterans Committee Chair Jane Burton.
A huge crowd of approximately just under 300 members and guests decked out in red, white, and blue attentively watched as the Vietnam Veterans of America and US Marine Color Guard presented the colors and stood proudly to recite the “Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag,” led by ER Donna Knerr. The “Pledge” was followed by a moving prayer by Chaplain Craig Waskow, Past Exalted Ruler.
Lodge members Charlie Wilson and Jack Hurd touched the hearts of the crowd with a stirring narrative and poem respectively. They were followed by a Special Presentation by ER Donna Knerr and Veterans Committee Chair Jane Burton — a “Roll Call” of 90 veterans, each called individually and receiving a framed certificate of thanks for his/her service to our country.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, attendees enjoyed a spaghetti dinner, prepared by dedicated lodge volunteers, which was served free to all veterans in attendance, and to non-veterans paying a nominal $5 charge.
“Johnny Nick,” one of our lodge’s favorite musicians, donated his talent in honor of our veterans, for which we give him our heartfelt thanks! Johnny played a stirring medley of patriotic songs and the crowd stood, sang, clapped, and enjoyed it. I would be willing to bet that there were many emotional tears discreetly shed. The large group danced to Johnny’s music the rest of the night and enjoyed the evening and each others’ company.
This wonderful tribute to our veterans was the result of the efforts of many lodge members and their hard work is very much appreciated. However, none of it would have been possible without the efficient scheduling, coordination, and dedicated work and commitment to our veterans by Lodge Secretary Flo Synenko and her husband Bill. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts!