Neosho, MO— The bugle played as the Neosho and McDonald County JROTC members presented the colors. Caps representing many branches of the United States militia were removed, hands placed over hearts. Though the atmosphere is somber, there is an undercurrent of pride radiating from the attendants of the 3rd annual Crowder College Veterans Appreciation Dinner.
Over 200 veterans and their families watched as the American flag was presented by the Neosho JROTC while listening with reverence to the National Anthem. A prayer of gratitude was offered preceding the meal.
“We really enjoy hosting this event,” said Jorge Zapata, Crowder College Agriculture Division Chair. “It is an honor to serve those that have sacrificed for our country. We want our local veterans to know how much we appreciate their patriotism.”
One story, in particular, stood out: 94-year-old World War II veteran, Tech Sergeant Bruce Benson, from Webb City, met his wife 75 years ago at Camp Crowder when she danced with the USO tour. He played the bugle processional music for the presentation of the colors and also played Taps at sundown, a tradition he continues at the Webb City Post Office daily.
“It was a real honor to serve the people who have served us,” said Nastasia Neier, second-year Veterinary Technician student from Bentonville, Arkansas. “We can never truly repay them, but serving them in this way is a small part of what we can give back to what they have given to all of us.”
The night was considered to be a huge success, judging by the teary-eyed thanks, contented smiles and warm conversation that flowed. The Crowder College Agriculture Division is looking forward to their next event.