Cullman Veterans Day Celebration set for Saturday

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Visitors will get up close and personal with Vietnam veteran helicopter pilots at this year’s Cullman County Veterans Day Celebration at Sportsman Lake Park. (Cullman Tribune file photo)

“There’ll be a whole lot of veterans in one place where you can just walk around and say, ‘Hey, thank you very much.’ That’s what the whole thing’s about. That’s why we do this.”

– Col. Ken Brown

CULLMAN, Ala. – This weekend, Cullman area veterans will be honored in events at the Cullman Civic Center, Sportsman Lake Park and the Cullman Elks Lodge. The annual Cullman County Veterans Day Celebration will take place Saturday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at Sportsman Lake Park, which will be packed with attractions, food and entertainment. Veterans will also take part in the annual Heroes’ Dinner Friday night and a special event Saturday evening at the Elks Lodge.

Cullman’s Veterans Day observances take place a week before Veterans Day, to free veterans and exhibitors to take part in other events on the holiday weekend.

Col. Ken Brown of VFW Post 2214 and the Cullman Elks Lodge sat down with The Tribune to talk about the importance of Veterans Day.

“It’s that day every year that we celebrate for the living veterans,” he said. “I think a lot of folks tend to forget that Memorial Day is for those veterans who have passed, and Veterans Day is for the living. So, it’s important on Veterans Day to come out for the holiday and thank the veterans and let them know, and let their families know, how much we appreciate what they’ve done for our country.”

Friday evening – Heroes’ Dinner at Cullman Civic Center

Brown told The Tribune the Heroes’ Dinner, sponsored by Cullman Savings Bank and hosted by Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs and his wife, to honor combat veterans of the Cullman area, has outgrown the space at Top of the Town where the event has previously been held, and moved this year to the Cullman Civic Center.

While having previously hosted veteran speakers with great stories to tell, this year’s event will feature entertainment by Letters from Home, presenting “a USO-type show which includes singing, dancing and comedy. They travel the world to promote patriotism and entertain the troops and veterans’ groups everywhere. This year’s show features popular songs from the Vietnam era. It is a high-energy, fun experience that you are guaranteed to enjoy!”

At each of 30 tables, guests will be seated with a local hero to enjoy dinner and the show, and to have an opportunity to learn more about that veteran’s story, face-to-face.

Said Brown, “The objective of the night is to acquaint the civilians with the military heroes that live among them.”

The popular event is sold out, but look for photos and more from The Cullman Tribune Friday evening.

Saturday morning and afternoon – Cullman County Veterans Day Celebration at Sportsman Lake Park, sponsored by Cullman Elks Lodge 1609

Sportsman Lake Park will host its regular annual Veterans Day exhibits and events, along with some of the exhibits that would usually appear at the Cullman Regional Airport (unavailable this year due to airport construction).

Col. Brown has ordered with a smile, “The Crimson Tide has a bye this week, so no excuses!”

  • 8 a.m. – Coffee and donuts for veterans, compliments of the Cullman County Republican Women
  • 8:30 a.m. – Ride-in, with Sons of Liberty Riders
  • 8:45 a.m. – March-in, with Sons of the American Revolution and Cullman County JROTC
  • 9 a.m. – Opening ceremony, Gwen Parker, Mistress of Ceremonies
  • 9:15 a.m.- Concert with Cullman Community Band
  • 10 a.m. – USO show with Letters from Home
  • 11:30-1 p.m. – Free lunch for veterans and spouses, compliments of the Elks Lodge, featuring Vietnam era radio programming. Food vendors for civilians.
  • 1-3 p.m. – Concert with Madison Rising at the Cullman County Fairgrounds Theatre
  • All day:
    • Displays of Vietnam-era military equipment, from soldiers’ gear to a UH-1 “Huey” helicopter 
    • Displays of WWII British military equipment
    • Civil War living history camp with the Sons of Confederate Veterans and cannons
    • Gen. Bob Stewart, Vietnam veteran helicopter and NASA space shuttle pilot, will be on hand.
    • Displays of military vehicles
    • Guides will be present to help visitors locate names on the Alabama Vietnam Veterans Wall.
    • Free parking with shuttle service available

Saturday evening – Veterans’ Night at Cullman Elks Lodge 1609

Starting at 5 p.m. in the evening, the Cullman Elks Lodge, 1609 Brantley Ave. NW, Cullman, will host Veterans’ Night for veterans and spouses. 

  • Food by Augusta’s food truck
  • Cash bar
  • Music by Madison Rising, Letters from Home and Round 2
  • Open to the public

What’s the point of these celebrations?

Brown hopes to see large crowds at the Veterans Day observances around town, for one reason: the veterans. He has been aggressive on social media recently, introducing vets who will be at Saturday’s event, telling bits of their stories and encouraging the public to come hear the rest first-hand.

Said Brown, “That’s why you should come out: not to hear any music, or not to see anything, but just to come out and get out of your car, and walk over and grab a few veterans on their one day of the year, and tell them, ‘Thank you’ and pat them on the backs. And if you enjoy the rest of it that’s going on out there, fine, but if that’s not your cup of tea, at least you can just turn out. There’ll be a whole lot of veterans in one place where you can just walk around and say, ‘Hey, thank you very much.’ That’s what the whole thing’s about. That’s why we do this.”

Learn more at www.cullmanveteransday.com or www.facebook.com/Cullman-County-Veterans-Celebration-358938820972320.

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W.C. Mann

craig@cullmantribune.com