Veterans invited to annual lunch at Danville armory

Published 6:10 pm Thursday, November 7, 2019

All veterans of any age from every branch of service are welcome to attend the Heritage Hospice Inc.’s Veterans Day Event on Monday.

For the 12th year in a row, Heritage Hospice will host a free lunch at the National Guard Armory for every veteran who attends. All they have to do is “just show up, register, get a ticket and go in,” said Sharon Martin, provider liaison for Heritage Hospice. 

Lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and includes a choice of fish and hushpuppies or barbecue and baked beans, with coleslaw — all made from scratch, Martin said. Plus several churches and individuals provide homemade cakes and pies, she added.

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Members of the Masons District 21 are the cooks. And servers will be students from Danville Christian Academy, members of Helping Hands and many other community officials and business people.

Martin said every year, the Hospice Veterans Committee tweaks the event so that it runs smoothly for the more than 1,000 veterans who attend. Parking is free at Danville High School stadium and a shuttle service will be provided. Disabled parking is also available.

“I enjoy this (lunch) because it gives me an opportunity to honor the veterans. I couldn’t do it myself. It’s a privilege to love and honor them for my freedom,” Martin said.

The Veterans Day event costs more than $12,000 to put on, Martin said. And losing sponsors this year, like Walmart from Boyle, Lincoln and Mercer counties and the City of Danville, makes hosting the event a little tougher to do, she said.

But area veterans groups such as American Legion, VFW and AmVets continue supporting the effort, Martin said. And with more than $2,000 raised and donated by Ray Boone and his  Fourth Street Fireworks business this year, “it has made a huge difference.” Also, the Boyle County Fiscal Court upped its financial support too, she said. And Lincoln Fiscal Court has provided a substantial donation for the past three years.

“These are pivotal things for me” to be able to continue the event, Martin said.

Martin said with so many veterans from different eras and war experiences, she knows some may be suffering from PTSD. Those who are uncomfortable in a crowded setting are welcome to enjoy their meal and visit with other vets in one of the smaller, more quiet back rooms, Martin said. “We are very aware of those things.”

As usual, a color guard will begin the event. Announcements will be made and Boyle County Judge-Executive and retired Brig. Gen. Howard Hunt will make a few comments, she said. But the main thing that the vets have told her over the years is that they just want to visit with each other. “It’s a big reunion for them.”