Pam Dudding – Burch
Contributing writer

Photo by Pam Dudding-Burch
Karen Jones and her elementary students at McCleary designed cards this year for every person attending the Seventh Annual Veterans and Active Military HONOR Dinner on November 11. This picture also includes cards made in previous years.

Most patriotic citizens agree that it is never too young to share the heritage of the United States with children. Craig County seems to feel the same.


In November 2011, The JC’s Depot decided to host a Military HONOR dinner for all Veterans and active military from Craig County. A week before the meal, they had 46 military and their families signed up. Neatly 100 ended up attending, much to everyone’s delight.

This dinner quickly became an annual event and many citizens, businesses, churches and groups started helping out. The McCleary Elementary School began sending letters the first year. Two years later, they started sending homemade cards.

Jessica Hamlin found out about the HONOR Dinner and contacted Pam Dudding in 2011, who was the founder of JC’s Depot. “She wanted to involve her students in being a part of honoring our local military,” Dudding shared. “Since, Karen Jones has taken the reins for the last four years and done a wonderful job as well.”

Also, the Depot started a group called The M.A.P. (Military Appreciation Project) Team where care packages are sent to the active military from Craig every three months. A student makes every card. Below is a letter Hamlin received in July 2014.

“My name is Justin Martin. I am currently in the Army and stationed at Camp Casey, which is in South Korea. Recently, I received a care package, and it was also full of letters from students from McCleary. Being a graduate from Craig County in 2011, and having two cousins –  Sam and Cam Boardwine – in the school system, I felt obligated to return the favor that these sweet kids have done for me. It brightened my day to read the letters and reading the words the kids said. It makes me feel proud of what I am doing over here. If I could ask you to please thank these children for me, maybe by letter, phone call or even just next school, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much and the support that everyone gives us in the service. It truly makes our job more meaningful, especially when it’s from my hometown, where I grew up, and where I went to school. Thank you again, and God bless. Sincerely, PFC Justin Martin.”

This year, Karen Jones’ second through fifth-grade students designed cards for everyone who will attend. They drew and colored pictures on the outside of the cards and then wrote personal notes on the inside.

“We are glad to honor our veterans any way we can, after all, they’ve done for us,” Jones added. “Whether Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines or Coast Guard, ‘they’ are always there to meet the enemy face-to-face, so we, the citizens of The United States of America do not have to.”

Who likes war? Most do not. Since Biblical days, thousands of years ago, history continues to repeat itself with wars, rumors of wars and even civil wars.

Saturday, November 11, is Veterans Day, a public holiday observed annually that honors Veterans who served in the United States Armed Forces.

The birth of Veterans Day was on November 11, 1919, when the signing of the armistice “ended the World War I hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany in 1918,” Wikipedia states. Originally the day was called “Armistice Day.”

It officially became a holiday in the United States in 1926, and a national holiday 12 years later. On June 1, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the legislation to change the name to Veterans Day.

With Veterans Day within the week, one may ask, “What does Veterans Day mean to the community?”

Chloe Ryan, a student from Craig County, answered that question after attending an assembly. “The assembly showed me that we should thank Veterans every day – not just on one day,” she said.

Craig County has a local VFW Post #4491 with over 75 members. These are men and women who were put in harm’s way for the protection of our country.

Also, many others served in the armed forces, who are not members but served The United States of America with honor, integrity and love for country.

One lady was recently asked what her definition of Veterans Day was. “It’s a day to remind me that I didn’t have to fight, to leave my family, to succumb to sights without reason or killings without understanding. It’s a day for me to be thankful that I don’t have ‘battle wounds’ I carry around every day for people who would rather spit in my face than give a small ‘thank you,’ was her response. “It’s a day that I am grateful for all the men and women who gave of themselves for me, my family and my country so that I can stand here today and say, ‘I live in freedom.’”

In Craig, some churches will have a complimentary meal and recognize the Veterans. The Seventh Annual Veterans and Active Military HONOR Dinner is scheduled for Sunday, November 13, at 1 p.m. the VFW.  All are welcome! Let’s continue the legacy with love for country.

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