Community parade and event honors local, national heroes
Bandera’s American Legion Post 157 hosted the 21st annual Bandera Honors Veterans celebration on Saturday, Nov. 11 at the Courthouse.
Family displays were set up on the lawn. Each family display held memories in pictures and medals for the veteran being honored.
The families were eager to chat about their veteran’s service with visitors. Many visitors strolled between the canopies looking at the memorabilia and listening to the stories being told.
Youngsters from the American Heritage Girls and Trail Life troops handed out programs and offered blankets to the elderly before the program began as well as helped setting up chairs for the program.
The program started at 10:30 a.m. and attracted an overflow crowd of 200 to the courthouse lawn.
Veterans were seated in special sections and guests included County Commissioners from Precinct 1 Bruce Eliker, Precinct 3 Jack Moseley, and Precinct 4 Jody Rutherford. Rebecca Gibson, Bandera Mayor, was also present among the dignitaries.
During the program, veterans from each branch of service and for each military campaign were recognized by being asked to stand.
While no World War II veterans were present, several veterans of the Korean War were recognized. The largest number of veterans present were those who served in Vietnam.
The master of ceremonies was MSgt Christopher Dion, USAF (Retired). Dion is the Chaplain of Post 157. He welcomed the Bandera High School Naval ROTC who posted the colors.
The ROTC cadets were accompanied by BISD Chief Administrative Officer Donald Tosh, also a veteran. After LtCol Dr. Theresa Schultz USAF (Retired) led the Pledge of Allegiance. Local singer Jennifer D’Spain sang the National Anthem acapella. Her clear tones and amazing range set the right musical tone for the celebration. A difficult song, even with accompaniment, D’Spain sang it with just the right feeling of patriotism while adding her own unique touches.
SGT Steven Nobel, US Army veteran and Chaplain of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association Chapter 23-3 gave the Invocation.
Post 157 Commander Colonel Susan Junker US Army (Retired) welcomed visitors and focused on what actions Americans can take to honor the sacrifices veterans have made to preserve our freedom.
She thanked the individual Legion groups who made the celebration happen. “Thank you to the veterans, the Auxiliary, the Legion Riders and their families for making today happen.”
Junker also focused on the actions that honored veterans throughout the year.
She mentioned the Jr. ROTC who not only posted the colors for Saturday’s program but who also posted the colors for BISD football games and community events.
Junker praised the Boy Scout Troop 146 for their actions by helping to escort veterans to the seating area, setting up the chairs, and by providing flags to children during the parade.
She commended the Medina High School Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) for participating in the national Wreaths Across America Program later in the month. Wreaths will be laid on veterans’ graves in the local Medina Cemetery.
Junker praised the Alkek Elementary Choir for their patriotic songs after diligently practicing and working to show their love of country.
To close her remarks, Junker reminded the crowd that “it is up to us to act, teach our youth, and engage in our democracy by voting.”
The San Antonio Pipe and Drum Corps honored veterans by playing a medley of the anthems of each branch of the military service.
Alkek Elementary’s children’s choir sang several patriotic songs. They sang “Yankee Doodle Dandy” to honor veterans of the War of Independence. This song was the unofficial anthem of the American Continental Army. Their solemn rendition of “My Country Tis of Thee” brought the crowd to their feet as the children sweetly sang of this “land of liberty.”
TSgt Lenard Anderson USAF (Retired) was the keynote speaker on the program. Anderson was one of four dog handlers spotlighted by the Animal Planet documentary “Glory Hounds.”
Reticent to speak about his service, Anderson spoke about his recovery from the massive injuries he suffered in combat from an IED.
Anderson lost his left hand, three fingers on his right hand, had extensive injuries to his legs, a broken eye socket, an abdominal wound, and a broken left arm along with numerous shrapnel injuries. Miraculously surviving, Anderson immediately began to work on getting himself ready to return to duty.
Anderson’s resilient spirit allowed him to quickly recover and return to full duty as a trainer with the 341st TRS Military Working Dog School. He retired from active duty in 2013 after 13 years of service.
He then went on to serve his community and fellow warriors by volunteering, playing on the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team, participating in the 2014 Warrior Games medaling in swimming and shooting, and competing in the 2016 Invictus Games.
After another musical selection by Jennifer D’Spain, “God Bless America,” led into the Benediction given by David Kunzi of the US Army. As the crowd dispersed to await the parade, many veterans loaded onto floats.
After the parade, the veterans and their spouses were treated to a sit-down barbeque lunch served on the lawn. Even though the weather was forbidding, the vets seemed to enjoy the luncheon and were eager to visit with each other about their military experiences.
Post 157 would like to thank its supporters for their assistance with this annual event. These are: Bandera City Marshal’s Office, Bandera County Commissioners, Bandera County Republican Women, Bandera Prophet, Bandera Pro Rodeo Association, Silver Sage Senior Center, Boy Scout Troop 146, American Heritage Girls Troop 4567, Trail Life Troop 9112, Lowe’s Market, Circle M Ice, Jarrod Tomasi Photography, Guillot Realty, JM Artisan Baked Goods, Lions’ Club of Bandera, T J’s At the Old Forge, TXN Bank and Steve and Andrea Brentz.
Castle Lake Ranch Chief drives the tender truck.