The Valparaiso Kiwanis Club and the Indiana Kiwanis District Foundation hosted the fifth annual “Salute to the Recruits” dinner Wednesday evening. The night brought together citizens of the community to recognize young men and women enlisting in the armed forces. The Old Town Banquet Center brought together approximately 380 people to honor those who have served, and who are about to serve.
Salute the Recruits Co-Chairman Lenny Corso said the dinner is a great way to recognize the outstanding individuals who are willing to put their lives on the line to fight for our country.
“Kids who are academically talented get scholarship recognitions. Kids who are athletically talented get letterman jackets and recognition. The kids who get right out of high school and go into the military get no recognition, and we are changing that with this dinner,” Corso said. “We used to have this event at lunch time, but not everyone could take the time off. Since we were so successful with our Veterans Appreciation Dinner in November, we moved it to the evening time, and it’s paying off.”
Corso believes it is important to honor veterans for their service.
“Bottom line, they are serving our country. The military changed my life. It gave me the maturity I needed and allowed me to get the college degrees. Tonight, every recruit will be honored individually by name.”
Salute the Recruits Co-Chairman John Bowker said the dinner brings high school students together for their bravery in joining the armed forces.
“Historically we have had between 30-40 recruits attend, and tonight we have about 90,” Bowker said. “This dinner has taken six months of planning. Our sponsor First Source Bank sold tickets for us, the Valparaiso University Band is playing for us, and once again the Kiwanis Club has stepped up to make tonight happen.”
Tables were filled with veterans, and those who are carrying on the family legacy of serving in the military.
Skyler Sullivan will be serving in the Marine Corps. He said he wanted to serve because of his family’s service, dating back to World War 1.
“My family is big in the military and I figured it would be something different in my life. To me, my service is an opportunity to protect those who protected my country when I was little,” Sullivan said.
Andrew Glinski will be doing meteorology in the Air Force, and joined for a very personal reason.
“Ever since I was a kid, it was a dream of mine to serve,” Glinski said. “I feel that it’s a responsibility of mine and at the same time, it’s always been my passion. I have had family in multiple branches of all of the services, so it’s always been a dream of mine.”
Marshawn Sherrod will be serving in the army. He hopes to serve for the men and women who have come before him.
“I’ve always wanted to go in the army. When I was little, I would watch movies of the great and brave people fighting for our country and I wanted to do the same thing,” Sherrod said.
Bowker considered the dinner a success.
“Tonight we say thank you for your service. We are the land of the free because of the brave, and that is what tonight is all about,” Bowker said.
14 Indiana Avenue
Valparaiso, IN 46383
Visit 1st Source Bank's Website