SFW’s annual Thanksgiving dinner for veterans Nov. 23

WWII veteran Cloyce Talmadge Drake, left, and Brandin’ Iron Steakhouse’s Josh Speakman, right, pose for a photo during 2018’s free Thanksgiving dinner for veterans. (Tribune file photo/Christy Perry)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Local nonprofit Saving Forgotten Warriors will host its fifth annual Thanksgiving dinner for veterans and their families next Monday, Nov. 23. The event is usually held at the Brandin’ Iron restaurant in West Point, but this year it is expanding to a second location at Cullman Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2214. Both locations will serve from noon-6 p.m., with opening prayers at 11:30. All veterans are welcome to come out for a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Meals will also be available for carryout at the VFW, and meals will be delivered to homebound veterans by Cullman County Sheriff’s Office staff.  

Saving Forgotten Warriors Founder and President Jeremy Hogan said he is grateful to the many sponsors who have made this meal possible this year and in years past. With COVID-19 causing so many traditions to be sidelined in 2020, Hogan said he was determined to not let this tradition be one of them.

“Brandin’ Iron and the VFW will stick to the COVID requirements, of course. The only thing different this year is the adding of the second location,” he said. “The VFW and Saving Forgotten Warriors have partnered together this year, which is something I have been working on for years. I am absolutely on cloud nine over it. I love that organizations are coming together, as well as the community.”

Hogan has volunteers from Cullman and surrounding areas coming to help prepare the meal, as well as people coming to help serve Monday.

The Cullman County Sheriff’s Office will be delivering homebound meals in Cullman County, and this year meals will also be delivered in Morgan and Blount counties.

Hogan stressed, “If there are any homebound vets that want a meal, they can still reach out to us up to the day of the event. Those who don’t want to attend in person (can) call ahead, and the VFW will be the location for any pick-up orders. They can sit down and eat there also.”

Brandin’ Iron and Saving Forgotten Warriors are expecting to prepare at least 1,200 plates this year.

Said Hogan, “All the original sponsors are still helping, and we’ve added a bunch this year. Bill Smith (Buick GMC) stepped up and doubled their donation from last year, which is huge! Amazing!”

Other sponsors and community leaders, including Sen. Garlan Gudger, R-Cullman, Cullman County Commissioner Garry Marchman and Cullman County Sheriff Matt Gentry are expected to stop in and fellowship with the veterans and their families.

“We want veterans of all situations to come and sit down with us and let us say thank you,” said Hogan. “This is not a meal to give you food because you don’t have food. It’s a meal to sit, break bread, fellowship and let us give you the thanks and love we so wish to give you. We admire our heroes. (This is) a way to say thank you to the men and women who do so much.”

All veterans, their spouses, their caregivers, Gold Star family members, widows of veterans and veterans’ children 18 and younger are welcome to come out and enjoy the Thanksgiving meal. Everyone is encouraged to wear masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Those who would like to pick up orders or would like a meal delivered to their home can call the Brandin’ Iron at 256-739-1112 or Saving Forgotten Warriors at 256-747-5006.

The VFW is located at 112 Veterans Dr. SW in Cullman. The Brandin’ Iron is located at 87 County Road 1242, Cullman, AL 35057.

Find out more at www.facebook.com/events/1322825434728810/.

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Christy Perry