Cullman County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy, Brett Holmes, right, visits with an area veteran at Monday’s Thanksgiving meal at the Brandin’ Iron in West Point. / W.C. Mann
WEST POINT – On Monday, local veterans were treated to a free Thanksgiving meal at the Brandin’ Iron location in West Point, hosted by nonprofit Saving Forgotten Warriors (SFW). Students from West Elementary School decorated the restaurant. West Point High School cheerleaders and members of the Hanceville High School Leo Club came to help with hosting and serving duties. The Cullman County Sheriff’s Office delivered meals to veterans who could not come to the restaurant, and former state representative/current gubernatorial candidate Rev. James Fields personally served dishes before sitting down to enjoy food and fellowship with an area veteran.
SFW’s Jeremy Hogan shared, “Today’s our second annual SFW and Brandin’ Iron Thanksgiving dinner for veterans. It’s not a typical Thanksgiving dinner per se; it’s a Thanksgiving feast!
“Our goal was to appreciate the veterans, not on Veterans’ Day, and, believe it or not, the majority of the veterans who come into this dinner haven’t had Thanksgiving dinner in a while and usually cannot cook it for themselves, so this gives us an opportunity to give back to them, show them our love and respect for what they’ve done and their sacrifices.
“It’s really a big blessing for us. This is actually my favorite event. Last night, I felt like it was the day before Christmas, like Christmas Eve; I’m sitting there excited as can be. I think I got an hour’s sleep.
“And the Brandin’ Iron–Misty, Josh and Brian–they’re fabulous. They jumped on it as soon as I mentioned it last year.”
After 204 diners turned out for a small-scale, hastily-planned event last year, SFW had time to scale up this year. This time, volunteers prepared to serve up to 500 or more dinners of smoked turkey, ham, green beans, sweet potato casserole, dressing, dessert and drinks. The menu included items from Brandin’ Iron and items prepared and donated by others in the community. Meals were free for veterans and their spouses, widows of veterans, their children under 18 and caregivers.
Cullman County Sheriff Matt Gentry, himself a Marine Corps veteran, came out with members of his staff who were delivering meals. He told The Tribune, “You know, if you talk to anybody at the Sheriff’s Office, this is something that’s near and dear to their heart. Veterans are what makes this country the way it is today; the freedoms we have to do what we have is because of veterans. So any time we can, we come out and support these guys.”
In the afternoon, SFW began video recording veterans telling their stories of service. These recordings will be sent to the National Archives in Washington D.C. for inclusion in their veterans’ files.
Hogan told The Tribune that SFW and Brandin’ Iron intend to make this an area tradition on the Monday before Thanksgiving, going forward. He was pleased with the local business and organizational sponsorships the event drew this year, but is always seeking more support for this and other veteran support programs.
“To us,” said Hogan, “this right here shows the patriotism of the community. The community comes together and makes the desserts, makes the food, and they bring it all over here, and we serve it for them. That’s huge. I love Cullman for that.”
For more information about SFW and its veteran support programs, call 256-747-5006 or visit www.facebook.com/Savingforgottenwarriors.org.
Copyright 2017 Humble Roots, LLC. All Rights Reserved.