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Elks Lodge Hosts “Feed The Veterans” Luncheon

Elks Lodge Hosts “Feed  The Veterans” Luncheon

Elks Lodge Hosts “Feed The Veterans” Luncheon

For the eighth consecutive year, members of the La-Grange Elks Lodge #1084 treated local veterans to a free lunch Wednesday in recognition and appreciation for their military service.

“Every year, veterans and active duty personnel and their families have joined us for a meal on Veterans Day, and it has gotten bigger each time. We had around 500 in attendance this year, and over 30 volunteers”, said Elks Lodge member Chuck Franklin.

Between the hours of 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., veterans were served plates of barbecue, stew, baked beans, slaw, bread, chips, and a drink at the Elks Lodge headquarters on South Davis Road.

“We, Chuck and I, were sitting around talking about what we could do to honor the veterans. We went to all the Veteran’s organizations and found out what they were planning to do on the square. We decided to feed them lunch.” said Rufus Brown the first Chairman of the Veterans Day Luncheon.

“We put people at Walmart, Kroger, Lees Crossing, all over town at different stores to try to collect money. Our first year we raised over $5,000, the second year we raised over $10,000,” stated Brown. “This started with nothing more than an idea and has evolved into what it is now. I am proud at the progress it has made.”

Franklin said “We were so worried that first year, we didn’t have any idea how many might show up or if we were going to have enough food.”

Jackie Lynn was the Chairman for this year’s event. “I love seeing the veterans come in here; I get to thank them for their service. Everyone here is a volunteer, and we have the best volunteers they come every year.”

She explained that anyone can donate to help purchase the necessary food, drinks, and plastic wear for next year’s lunch by sending a check made payable to Elks Lodge and on the note line at the bottom write in “Feed the Veterans”

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to: LaGrange, GA No. 1084 PO Box 986, LaGrange, GA 30241-0018.

Lynn explained that in donations are also needed for this year’s Christmas Party. “We have a lunch for Special Needs children in the school district. They get to visit with Santa and he gives them gifts. Normally we have around 25 children, but the school system has consolidated more children into this area so we are going to have twice as many.” Donations to purchase gifts and food for the children are needed. Write in Children’s Christmas Party on the note line.

Marion Carson spoke of his military career of being drafted in 1957 into the Army. He was stationed for a short time at Fort Benning before being sent to France for 18 months. “I was never in combat my service time was between the Korean War and The Vietnam War.”

Sponsors for the event were: Elm City Lodge #544, Iron Cross MC, VFW, Golden Liquors, Polk Sheet Metal, Curtis Hart, J & L Automotive, Charter Bank, Jerry Cleaveland, Dudley’s Outdoors, Baptist Tabernacle, LaGrange Chapter NSDAR, Diverse Power, Doug Hill, AG Upchurch, LaGrange Elks, LaGrange Elks Aux. D.J. Wings & Things, Biscuit Stop, Holmes Pharmacy, John & Jackie Lynn, Ralph Howard, Jim Short, Piggly Wiggly, Jackson Printing, and P.C. Screen Printing.

A small round table was setup near the entrance, set but never occupied-the prisoners of war/missing in action (POW/MIA) table.

The tradition of setting a separate table in honor of our prisoners of war and missing comrades has been in place since the end of the Vietnam War. The manner in which this table is decorated is full of special symbols to help us remember our brothers and sisters in arms.

• Table: set for one is small, symbolizing the frailty of one isolated prisoner. The table is usually set close to, or within sight of, the entrance to the dining room. Table is round to represent everlasting concern on the part of the survivors for their missing loved ones.

• Tablecloth is white, symbolic of the purity of their intentions to respond to their country’s call to arms.

• Single red rose in the vase, signifies the blood that many have shed in sacrifice to ensure the freedom of our beloved United States of America. This rose also reminds us of the family and friends of our missing comrades who keep the faith, while awaiting their return.

• Yellow ribbon on the vase represents the yellow ribbons worn on the lapels of the thousands who demand with unyielding determination a proper accounting of our comrades who are not among us tonight.

• Slice of lemon on the bread plate: represents the bitter fate of the missing.

• Salt sprinkled on the bread plate: symbolic of the countless fallen tears of families as they wait.

• Inverted glass: represents the fact that the missing and fallen cannot partake.

• Lit candle: reminiscent of the light of hope which lives in our hearts to illuminate their way home, away from their captors, to the open arms of a grateful nation.

• Empty chair: the missing and fallen aren't present.

Vicki Sharpton Staff Writer