The Noon Exchange Club and city of McMinnville are partnering to offer veterans the recognition they deserve for serving their country.
Called “A Salute to Our Veterans,” the event is free and open to the community. It will be offered on Veterans Day on Nov. 11 at Park Theater beginning at 5:30 p.m. City officials provided use of the facility at no cost.
“We can never do enough to honor the men and women who have served our nation so honorably,” said Mayor Jimmy Haley. “The city is proud to show respect for our veterans on this very special day.”
Noon Exchange Club president Ashley Wright says the event is to recognize all veterans with a special emphasis on those who served during the Vietnam era.
“A Salute to Our Veterans will be a celebration of our local veterans and all who fought in all wars and conflicts on behalf of the U.S.,” said Wright. “For this event, we will be putting a special spotlight on Vietnam-era veterans, but once again, it is an event to honor all veterans.”
The tentative agenda and participant list:
• The Silver and Gold Band will open with patriotic music
• Welcome and introductions by Mayor Haley
• Presentation of colors by the color guard
• National anthem by Silver and Gold Band
• Pledge of Allegiance by Girl Scout Troop 1744
• Presentation by Col. Thomas Vaughn
• Presentation by Chaz Allen
Warren County High School’s JROTC members will serve as ushers
Wright says the event could be the first of its kind in Warren County.
“For as long as I can remember, our community has never done any sort of big event to honor our veterans on Veterans Day,” said Wright. “There are the events at the schools and a couple of other small events on that day, as well as a couple other small events and observances done for our veterans on days other than Veterans Day, but I’ve never known of a community-wide event of this sort on Veterans Day.”
The focus of the Exchange Club is Americanism. On a national level, the club is making a big push this year to do projects that honor veterans and raise funds for organizations that support them. During the Park Theater event, donations will be accepted for participating veteran service organizations and each of those will have information booths set up.
“One of the organizations our club supports on a national level is Veterans Matter, which helps homeless veterans get the funds they need for housing,” said Wright. “There will be several veteran service organizations involved with this event. So, in addition to Veterans Matter, we’re hoping to bring awareness and donations to these organizations that provide support and resources to our veterans.”
The focus on Vietnam-era veterans is an effort to right a wrong, says Wright.
“I’m told that nothing was ever done to celebrate or welcome home those veterans who fought during the Vietnam era,” said Wright. “We have, deservedly so, paid tribute over and over to local veterans of other wars during a variety of events. We have never done anything as a community to honor the men and women who did their job serving our country during the Vietnam era. We’re hoping to remedy that at least a little with this event.”
Refreshments will be available.