Never stand between a Veteran and hot food

2013_07160041Never stand between a Veteran and hot food

Michael Isam
Special to Historic City News

One of the items on the reporters “Things I need to know” list is to never attempt to interview a person during a meal. This holds doubly true if that person is a US Veteran. They have a glare that can freeze an attacking tiger in mid-leap.

For Veterans, the items on the “fiercely loyal” list are few. Family is at the top of the list and immediately following is comrades. There is no discernible difference in their dedication to a WWI Veteran, a Veteran of the current war, or any war between the two.

A notch below comrades is hot food. Ask any Veteran about C-Rats and LURPS and you will know why.

“Spirit Night” allowed the recognition for both. Held every Tuesday at Sonny’s, the special night allows for recognition of not-for-profit organizations. Sonny’s donates 10-percent of the receipts between 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. to the organization.

This particular night helped raise funds for the “Wreaths across America” campaign — to place a wreath on each of the 1218 graves in the St Augustine National Cemetery.

The annual event began in 2007 with ceremonial wreaths being placed on white crosses made by Col. Ed Taylor. A wreath for the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines, and the POW/MIA was presented.

“We have continued that ceremony every year since,” said Dan Blackman, the current Location Leader and driving force behind this year’s campaign. “Last year was a banner year for us,” he continued. “We placed a wreath on all the graves in the cemetery for the first time since we began.”

Donations, the mainstay for the program, range from individual wreaths to corporate sponsorships. “The wonderful part about tonight is we have people from across the United States contributing to our ceremony,” said Blackman. “Couples from California and Colorado, families from Tennessee and even from Miami, contributed by buying dinner.”

Some of the visitors were unaware of Wreaths Across America. A visiting couple from California, who asked not to be identified, remarked “St. Augustine is a very patriotic town.” “I think we have a national cemetery in California,” said the husband, “but I can’t say for certain.”

On “Spirit Night”, two organizations presented Blackman with checks to purchase wreaths for the December event. Judy Davis represented the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and Kevin McKeefery represented American Legion Post 37.

“It was an incredible night,” said Blackman, “with the contributions just received as well as the donation from Sonny’s, we will be just a stone’s throw away from our goal.”

Judging by the “Saucy Smiles” on the faces of patrons, it was a grand night all around.

The yearly event is held the second Saturday of December every year. This year’s event date is December 14, 2013.

For more information, go to http://www.veteranscouncilofstjohns.org/Wreaths.html

Photo credits: © 2013 Historic City News contributed photograph by Michael Isam

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