On Saturday evening 12 November 2022, Our Dunkirk Elks Lodge was bustling with activity.
Our Exalted Ruler personally requested that ALL Veterans be present, so I donned my Ceremonial Honour Guard Uniform and came out to the Lodge on a blustery, cold snowy evening. The same uniform I have worn for years as an American Legion Post Commander, Department of Indiana District Officer, and Public Relations Officer. I've assisted in, or officiated over, 33 consecutive years of Memorial Day Ceremonies, and assisted in well over 150, Honour Guard Ceremonial Graveside Funeral Details over the last 33 years since I was honourably discharged from active duty in The United States Navy. I arrived at the Lodge at was pleasantly surprised to see a very good turnout of BOTH Veterans and Lodge Members who were there to welcome us. A totally free meal was prepared and ready for us. The delicious meal was a labour of love for those who prepared and served it to us.
Then our lovely Exalted Ruler outdid herself with an absolutely beautiful ceremony, during and after which I saw several of us (yes myself included) reaching for a handkerchief or napkin because, darn it, there was "something in our eyes"!
Then, I noticed that we had a lady in attendance with her husband whom I personally knew, from a terrible event of several years ago.
I asked all in attendance if they knew what a BLUE STAR BANNER meant. Then I asked them if they knew what it meant when a BLUE STAR TURNS TO GOLD? Then I introduced them to the beautiful lady, Norma Whitacre and her husband. You see, their son Andrew Whitacre, whom I was fortunate enough to have personally known, paid the Supreme Sacrifice as a Marine. Norma is a GOLD STAR MOTHER. I've never forgotten her wonderful son, who's youthful, unfinished life ended far too soon on foreign soil, and I never will. (Attached is a picture of the son who's loss, sadly placed a GOLD STAR MOTHER in our presence last evening.)
Many years ago I attended an event where the guy at the lectern asked all Veterans to rise and be acknowledged. I sat there, not even moving, and a friend at the table with me prodded me and said STAND UP!! You see, at that point in time, I hadn't been out of The Navy all that long, and to me, as a youth, I had always looked in awe at guys like Ed Clark, Victor Wells, Herb Heston, Keith M. Noller, and WALT ROGERS!!! To me, now those guys were VETERANS!!! They had been in World War Two and literally saved the World!! Who was I to stand with such honourable men of true sacrifice? I felt woefully, inadequate and unworthy to stand with them.
As I've aged, now, yes I'm fully aware that indeed, I am a Veteran... But deep down I know I'm not worthy of the reverence I had as a youth for those guys. I served in a relatively peaceful time, and my service did not include selfless sacrifice up to and including death. Today, I proudly don that ceremonial uniform for such events, and yes I now stand when asked, without being prodded. I do so, because I know it's my loyal and sworn duty to ensure that we all NEVER FORGOT what it means to be Norma, A GOLD STAR MOTHER!!! I was filled with emotions I find hard to adequately express last evening at our beautiful Elks Lodge right here in little old Dunkirk Indiana. It's such an honour to be a member of such a fine organization, who genuinely cares to show Veterans such warmth and love.
THANK YOU VICKY FOR A BEAUTIFUL CEREMONY!
Thank you Bob Ford for your reading of the origin of Taps.
Honourable mention to Bob Braun and his lovely wife for that great dinner!!
ONLY -ONE- LODGE MEETING in DECEMBER: Thursday, DECEMBER 1st -
NEXT LODGE MEETINGS Thursday JANUARY 5th & JANUARY 19th - 7:30 PM - Members Please plan to attend! -HOUSE COMMITTEE meets the at 6:30, the 1st THURSDAY of the Month, before Lodge Meeting -- TRUSTEES meet the 3rd THURSDAY of the Month of Jan. at 6:30 PM - Welcome to our New Members!