Franklin County veterans and their families were honored recently at the 18th annual Russell Barnett Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep Disabled American Veterans Chapter 71 Appreciation Dinner.
The event, which is sponsored every year by Russell Barnett, was held on Nov. 19 at Russell Barnett Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep on Decherd Boulevard in Winchester.
Students from the Pelham Elementary School choir sang patriotic songs for the veterans and their families, and the evening’s special guest speaker was 28-year veteran U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Vincent Silva.
The showroom floor at the dealership was filled with dozens of long tables decorated in red, white and blue with each table bearing a small U.S. flag.
The evening began with a musical performance from the Pelham choir. Weeks of practice paid off for the young patriots as they delivered a flawless performance of the “Star Spangled Banner” before singing each U.S. military branch’s official song which included the “Army Song,” “Anchors Aweigh” (U.S. Navy), “Wild Blue Yonder” (U.S. Air Force), “The Marines’ Hymn” (U.S. Marine Corps), and “Semper Paratus” (U.S. Coast Guard).
The choir received a standing ovation from the nearly 200 veterans and their family members in attendance.
Retired Sgt. Maj. Larry Williams briefly addressed the gathering before the evening’s meal was served.
Williams spoke about the importance of honoring and supporting veterans and spoke regarding the Franklin County chapter of the Disabled American Veterans’ role in helping area veterans and their families through various programs and volunteer efforts.
Franklin County’s veterans and their families then enjoyed a feast of turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potato casserole, dinner rolls and iced tea. Ice cream was served for dessert.
Many veterans were heard to remark that the food was excellent. Following the evening’s meal, special guest speaker Silva briefly addressed the gathering.
Silva thanked the gathering for accommodating himself and his wife, Staci, and told the assembly that they were truly humbled and proud to be at this year’s DAV Appreciation Dinner.
Silva then thanked all the veterans in attendance for all they had done in service to their country before speaking briefly about the Disabled American Veterans organization.
“The DAV is the cornerstone for the way we support each other before, during and after service,” Silva said. “You continue to serve each other, and it is greatly appreciated.
“Your hard work and dedication to each other, to veterans, is noticed. It’s noticed in the civilian leadership and by the elected officials of this country.”
Silva then spoke about the challenges faced by many veterans when making the transition from active duty service to civilian life and how this process is made so much easier by the countless veterans and veterans’ organizations who support and look after each other.
“I sincerely thank you for your service and your sacrifice,” Silva said. “I share the pride you feel in being able to say you have served in the greatest military in the world, and I thank you all for choosing to serve and show your support of our heroes, past and present. May God bless you, and may God bless all those serving in harm’s way. And God bless America.”
Russell Barnett has sponsored the annual dinner for 19 years, and he was quick to praise the many veterans who attended this year’s Appreciation Dinner.
“I’m just grateful to all of our veterans, and the annual dinner is one way for me to show my appreciation for them all,” Barnett said.
The Franklin County chapter of the Disabled American Veterans meets every third Tuesday night of each month at the Franklin County Country Club at 5:45 p.m.
Led by Commander Randy Lancaster, the chapter participates in numerous programs and fundraisers every year which benefit local veterans and their families.
Anyone seeking further information is urged to contact Larry Williams at 931-924-3000.
The Pelham Elementary School choir performers included Adley Selvog, Carson Bryant, Michael Brown, Gracie Winton, Mahaylee Blevins, Ray Ray Colbert, Mollie Jacobs, Hanna Sage, Mary Ella Davidson, Andon Selvog, Gracie Rogers, Destin Kilgore, Lana Layne, Carson Kelly, Jazzy John, Katelyn Clark, Presley Stephens, Amayza Fulmer and Mekhi Fulmer.
The choir’s directors included Reeda Shelton, Norma Floyd and Lora Selvog.