Armed Forces Honored at Church Ceremony in Colonial Heights
By Caitlin Davis
Jun 11, 2012, 14:48
photo by Samantha Chambers
COLONIAL HEIGHTS - On Saturday May 19, almost 100 soldiers from Fort Lee as well as residents in the surrounding community filled the parking lot of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church to honor the Armed Forces.
Mike Coleman, Military Relations Liaison, Office of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security, presented the soldiers with a certificate declaring May Military Appreciation Month.
“You take an oath and we thank you,” Coleman said.
Coleman said Virginia has a proud history of the armed forces. He said many residents from Virginia continue to serve on active duty and over 830,000 Veterans chose to make Virginia their home after their service.
After the certificate was presented to the soldiers, they gave an Army chant, a symbol of commrodery.
The music for event was provided by the Ft. Lee Chaplin’s Choir, Mt. Pleasant Baptist Choir and Woodlawn Baptist Choir. The songs at the event paid tribute to America and to the soldiers.
During the Salute to the Armed Forces March, each song from the five branches of the military, Army, National guard, Air force, Marine Corps and Navy and flags were marched to the front and veterans as well as active duty members stood in remembrance of their time served.
Narrator for the event, Rick Venema, said the troops are the finest the country has to offer.
“They serve a life of duty, honor and sacrifice,” Venema said.
“I’m Proud to be an American” was sung by all choirs as Venema finished his tribute and as the song carried through the church parking lot, the soldiers stood, followed by those in attendance.
Pastor Grant Keith, who sang “We Remember You” during the ceremony, told the soldiers that they are remembered today and he thanked them for their service.
“We remember all the times you stood and gave your life so we could be free,” Keith sang.
Delegate Kirk Cox, R-66, who spoke at the ceremony, said it was very inspirational. He said men and women of the military should be honored for all their hard work and sacrifice.
“These men and women allow us to live in a country where we have free speech and other freedoms that many countries just don’t have...that’s what they’re fighting for,” Cox said.
Cox, who is a government teacher and said that is his passion, quoted George Washington and John Adams, some of the founding fathers of this country, while he spoke about the importance of the ceremony.
“This nation was built on the military,” Cox said.
Keith hopes this ceremony will become an annual event. He said God put in his heart a deep desire to reach out and encourage the soldiers at Ft. Lee.
“I feel at times they are a lost picture of service to our country. We need to raise awareness for what they do,” Keith said.
Keith said the ceremony was awesome. He said the most rewarding aspect was seeing how it touched the soldiers.
“It was great seeing how our soldiers became encouraged, many of them are running on empty and to see them get uplifted,” Keith said.
Command Sgt. Major with the 262nd Quartermaster Battalion, Kevin Tatem said the event was a great way to bring together the community and the soldiers.
“Anytime the community embraces the experience to be a part and share that embrace with the service members is great,” Tatem said.
Billy Norman, 1st Sgt. with the 262nd Quartermaster Battalion Command, said the event was great for the young soldiers. He said it showed them how a community can reach military bases.
“It was good...it was well put together. It wasn’t just for soldiers, it was for their families and for the community,” Norman said.