The Valparaiso Rotary Club and Valparaiso Noon Kiwanis Club rallied together to honor our Veterans Wednesday evening at Old Town Banquet Center. For their 2nd annual Veterans Appreciation Dinner, the clubs acknowledged the 100-year anniversary of World War I's end. All 200 Veterans in attendance were thanked with applause and cheers.
George Carberry, Master of Ceremonies, said that the Rotary Club and the Kiwanis Club previously had separate Veterans events, but decided last year to make a grand, unified event.
“Both clubs want to pay a debt of gratitude to Veterans in the community,” Carberry said. “We try to make this the largest Veteran event in Porter County.”
The clubs’ combined efforts paid off. Veterans Appreciation Dinner was a success with 400 attendees, an engaging program, and wonderful food. Carberry thanked Valparaiso University Concert Band, Luce Concert band, and the City of Valparaiso Police Department Color Guard for making the event memorable.
Doug Mogck, President of the Valparaiso Rotary Club, said that his thoughts were with fellow Rotarian, John Wolf. Wolf, who turned 100 in September, is the oldest living Naval Chapman in Indiana.
“John was going to be here tonight,” Mogck said. “We just learned that his family moved him into hospice care."
Wolf has been a proud member of the Rotary Club for 38 years. In 2004, Wolf started the Rotary Veterans luncheon.
“He’d be proud to know how we evolved into a much bigger event,” Mogck said.
According to Lenny Corso, President Elect for Kiwanis, the Veterans Appreciation Dinner was a smooth operation between two clubs who hope to send a meaningful message to all Veterans.
Corso personally connects with the event’s objective, as he was a Green Beret Medic during the Vietnam War. He explained why events like these are vital to returning troops.
“We were not welcome back after the war,” Corso said. “As I got older, and got around other Vietnam vets, we wanted to change that.”
Corso said that Veterans, young and old, are in need of support. With Veterans Day approaching, Corso explained Veterans Day origins in his speech.
“In 1918 on the 11th day of 11th hour of 11th month, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostility, was signed and the Great War was at an end,” Corso said.
Corso acknowledged the woeful reality of war by explaining the red poppies symbolism.
“The poppy symbolizes the sacrifices of soldiers in World War I,” Corso said. “The flower sprouted in the thousands over the many graves.”
Key speaker and Veteran, Michael Silver, addressed ways that anyone can support a Veteran or those actively in the service.
“Little things do matter,” Silver said.
Silver suggested saying thank you, writing notes, supporting those who are interested in joining the Armed Forces, and hiring Veterans.