Conditions take toll, but Cullman County Veterans Day Celebration still draws crowd

Veterans take a moment to reminisce and catch up with each other at the Alabama Vietnam Memorial Wall Saturday morning. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Veterans and their supporters from across the region gathered Saturday morning in Veterans’ Park at Sportsman Lake for the 2019 Cullman County Veterans Day Celebration, sponsored by the Cullman Elks Lodge. The event included free breakfast and lunch for veterans and their spouses, a ride-in by the Sons of Liberty motorcycle club, morning concerts by USO-style duo Letters from Home and the Cullman Community Band, an afternoon concert by Madison Rising, vehicle and equipment displays representing eras from the American Revolution through the Vietnam War and multiple veterans’ and community organizations.

Late Saturday morning, Cullman Elk and event Mistress of Ceremonies Gwen Parker told The Tribune, “I’m very excited to be a part of it. It’s a great program. It’s a great tribute to our veterans. The USO-type show is fabulous. There’s a lot of veterans here. We feed them at lunch, and we have another concert this afternoon with Madison Rising, that is a great rock band that plays nothing but patriotic music. It’s just a really great program, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

The numbers were down compared to last year, with event coordinators having to contend with both the unavailability of the Cullman Regional Airport, due to construction, and this week’s temperature nosedive. Several groups that would usually set up shop at the airport came over to Veterans’ Park, though, and temperatures rose steadily through the morning thanks to bright sunshine in a clear sky. As lunchtime approached, a good-sized crowd had turned out.

Col. Ken Brown observed, “It’s a nice crowd, but not a big crowd, right now. All the CARTS buses are working good to take the people from the parking lot to the venues. And we’ve got plenty of good food out here for lunch, and veterans and their spouses are going to get a free lunch at 11:30, and we’ve got a lot of entertainment. We’ve got a beautiful, sunny day- a little bit cool, but it’s going to warm up.”

Asked what he hoped civilians will take away from their visit to the event, Brown responded, “I hope people come out here and bring something to this, rather than take something away. I hope they come out here and love their veterans up, because these guys and gals have done a lot for our country, and this is the one day a year that we get to come out where they’re all gathered in one place to pat them on the back and say. ‘Thank you.’ So, it’s not what the civilians can take away from it; it’s what they can bring to the veterans.”

Veterans Day is Monday, Nov. 11. Look for more community activities between now and then to honor those of our community who have served their country.

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“Chainsaw” and “Superman” from the In Country Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club came out to celebrate Veterans Day at Sportsman Lake Saturday with other veterans’ groups and supporters from across the community. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

W.C. Mann