As Veterans Day draws near, local organizations are preparing to celebrate veterans who have served the country and protected our freedoms.
To honor veterans, Older River Baptist Church created a beautiful Wall of Veterans that has over 1,000 names of veterans to demonstrate the deep respect its community has for its service members. The wall is 4-feet by 24-feet and made of corrugated plastic and is on display at the Mont Belvieu City Park.
Casey Hensley, Old River Baptist Church pastor of worship arts, said the wall is about honoring all veterans — whether they live in the area or not, active duty or retired or related to community members or not.
“The wall is open to anybody. I’m actually from the Caribbean, and I have people that I have grown up with who served and they’re on there,” Hensley said. “I don’t care who you want to put on the wall as a memory, as a celebration of their work or as a veteran. When the wall gets full, we will make it bigger.”
If anyone would like to add a name to the wall for next year, visit www.oldriverbaptist.com/vetwall.
This year they’ve added about 150 more names in honor of their service to country.
The wall will be on display until Nov. 17 at the Mont Belvieu City Park, after that it will be stored until next fall when more names will be added, and the wall will be presented again.
But on Saturday, the wall will be moved to Barbers Hill High School auditorium for the Mont Belvieu Community Veterans Service.
The service will be from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. and will include keynote speakers Larry Dierker, Major League Baseball pitcher, manager and broadcaster, and Baytown Assistant Police Chief David Alford who is a former Marine.
“It’s a celebration and a ‘thanks’ to the veterans,” Hensley said. “And it really is a community event. I get that we’re the ones putting it on but it’s not an Old River Baptist Church thing, it’s our communities’, and that’s why we have so many people and organizations from our community participating.”
In addition to Dierker and Alford, Congressman Brian Babin will send a “thank you” video, and Old River Baptist Church pastors Wes Hinote and Ronnie Webb will speak.
The Baytown ensemble from the Baytown Orchestra will also perform at the event.
“They played last year, and they are just phenomenal,” Hensley said.
In Baytown, the city will have a Veterans Day Ceremony at 11 a.m. Sunday out at Bicentennial Park, 1001 Market St.
Speakers include City Councilman Charles Johnson, past commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 912 Jerry Johnson and Gideon Jones, a U.S. Army Air Corp, WWII veteran and POW.
The Eastside Veterans Celebration will host a full day of events for veterans on Saturday.
Starting at 9 a.m., a parade will line up at the Crosby Middle School north exit and will proceed north on FM 2100, exiting at First Street and then heading left at Wahl Street and left again at FM 2100 then back to the middle school.
Once reassembled at the American Legion Hall, special salutatory services and recognitions will begin at 11:30 a.m. as does the dinner for veterans and first responders. A complementary meal for about 350 veterans and a guest will be served while others can purchase plates for $10 until 4 p.m.
Veterans Day will take on a special meaning this November as the nation commemorates the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended the world’s first global conflict. To celebrate the anniversary, the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission is sponsoring a national Bells of Peace initiative on November 11.
In a recent message, Gov. Greg Abbott encouraged Texans to join the national effort honoring the 116,516 American lives lost and 200,000 wounded during the Great War. Schools, churches, organizations, and individuals can participate by tolling their bells 21 times, in five-second intervals, on Sunday, November 11, at 11 a.m. local time. The 21 bell tolls symbolize a 21-gun-salute, one of the nation’s highest honors. Visit worldwar1centennial.org for more information.