The Valparaiso Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs held their first Veterans Day Observance Dinner Program on Wednesday. The banquet honored those who have served to show appreciation for local veterans. The dinner sold out a week in advance with more than 400 attendees.
Lenny Corso, Vice President of the Valparaiso Kiwanis Club and Chairman of the Veterans Committee, said Kiwanis and Rotary had an idea to form a partnership and host a dinner together.
“We have two very prominent service clubs and we put aside our rivalries,” said Corso. “Tonight, everything is about our veterans. When we decided to do this, we wanted it to be first class all the way. There is nothing too good for veterans and Valparaiso is a wonderful community. When they pull together on something, they go 110 percent.”
George Carberry, Veterans Day Committee Chair and Former President of Rotary, helped Corso put on the dinner. The 2 men call each other their partner in making tonight’s banquet happen. They wanted to reach out and bring veterans from across The Region together.
“Veterans deserve our respect and our honor. They take time from their lives to represent our country and to defend our country,” said Carberry.
Ellen DeMartinis, President of Rotary, was proud to see the remarkable turnout for the first Veterans Day Dinner.
“It was a no brainer,” said DeMartinis. “We both do great Veterans Day programs and to combine them seemed like the right thing to do. To create and put on a premier event like this that can bring in so many people, we are just really honored. We are 2 really strong civic organizations, and until this, we have not ever tried to combine our efforts. This has by far exceeded our expectations.”
Each veteran was announced by name and asked to stand. At the end, applause filled the room and several faces looked up to the many people who have served for the country.
Veterans were able to bring their loved ones to the banquet. Earl Wolf traveled from Michigan and brought his father, Jon, who is 99 years-old and served in World War II.
“My father has been active in Valparaiso for years,” said Wolf. “He’s a proud Rotarian and loves coming to dinners like these.”
Max Hunter is a Purple Heart recipient and believes these events are great to recognize veterans.
“It’s great to give thanks to the ones who serve. It’s nice to be appreciated as a veteran,” said Hunter.
Griffith, a veteran and an attendee of the event, said his family has a history of service.
“My [family’s] veteran history goes all the way back to the Civil War, when my great- great-grandfather was a captain in the Illinois Infantry,” said Griffith. “In my family, there are roughly 60 veterans. We’re all very patriotic and support the military.”
With a sold-out dinner and an excellent turn out that has succeeded their expectations, the Kiwanis and Rotary clubs plan on making the Veteran’s Day Observance Dinner a yearly one. Together, their partnership brought the community together for a night of honor and admiration.
For more information on Valpo Kiwanis Club, visit http://www.valpokiwanis.org/
For more information on Valpo Rotary Club, visit http://www.rotaryvalpo.com/