Strait On: Local church treats veterans and their families

Photos by Rusty Strait/The Valley Chronicle
Veterans and their families enjoy a meal while listening to a live band last weekend.

■ Rusty Strait / Senior Reporter

This past weekend Way of the Lord Ministries hosted a dinner at American Legion Post 53 in Hemet. It was more than just a dinner, however, and turned out to be a late afternoon joy for everyone involved.
A large crowd sat across from each other at several tables covered with goodies. Long before dinner was served, a band of veterans provided the diners with a variety of music selections that most people of a certain age would immediately recognize (no rap or hip-hop).
The Post’s Cub and Boy Scouts were at every elbow to provide for anyone’s needs, serving cold drinks and coffee.
The main meal consisted of sliced ham, mixed vegetables, scalloped potatoes, and bread and butter. Later on came dessert–cupcakes and the most delicious pumpkin pie with whipped cream that you could imagine.
More importantly, the comradeship amongst the guests, ranging in age from 2-93 years young, revealed something not always seen in everyday life. Children mingled with their peers as though they were next door neighbors. Veterans of every war from World War II to Afghanistan exchanged greetings and traded stories of places they had been stationed in the service, some of them at the same places, but hadn’t met there.
It was a family event from start to finish. Just when it seemed that the event might be over, along came helpers passing out tickets to all the children, who were told to hold on to them because they would be redeemable later on.
Then the happiest event of the evening took place. Up in front of the hall, below the stage, Santa’s helpers brought out dozens of gifts for children of all ages. Everything from dolls, balls and mechanical toys to skateboards with knee pads and helmets were distributed to the youngsters by age group, the youngest first and then up the latter to teenagers. Laughter and even tears of joy were seen and heard throughout the hall.
It was a real occasion of sharing and being neighborly. All was well with the world and all went home with full tummies, toys and a sense of belonging.

Just sayin’.

Kids line up to select a gift at the recent veterans dinner at American Legion Post 53, hosted by Way of the Lord Ministries.
It was standing room only at American Legion Post 53, where dinner and live entertainment awaited veterans and their families.

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