Veterans, family and friends of Five Star Chapter 912 in Ottawa, KS gathered at El Dorado Lake this past weekend for the 29th annual Kansas Veterans and Family Reunion.
Ben Mitchell, founding president, welcomed everyone during the opening ceremonies Saturday morning, commenting on how many people they have helped there and watched grow up at the reunion.
“We started this as Vietnam Veterans Family Reunion, ” he said. “We went on up to 20 years, and at 20 years we started seeing some of our own kids coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq and Desert Storm, and they needed a place to go. So as a Vietnam veteran and most of my companions were all Vietnam veterans, we decided we would open it up to all wars that way the help we needed and the help you gave us, you would receive. We want to keep that tradition going. It’s just amazing when we started this to see the development. We had no idea it was going to become annual and it just overwhelmed us. Twenty-nine years later we’re still here and we’ve got the younger vets we’re taking care of. They can come here, they can share camaraderie, they can get help if they need it. It’s all right here. They can talk to us; we can share some of our stories. They all coincide. We know what they went through so we can relate. In that, it starts a healing process that is overwhelming, you become comrades, you become friends.”
Also recognized were the president and vice president when the name of the reunion was changed, Lance McCune and Kevin Pickrell.
KVFR President David Burditt then introduced a Gold Star Mother who was at the reunion a few years ago, Denise Lang, who spoke to the group and was joined by fellow Gold Star Mother Angela Foster.
“On June 19, 2009, I became a Gold Star Mother, ” Lang began. “For those of you who may not know what that is, a Gold Star Mother is a mother who has lost a child who was serving in an active capacity with the United States military or has died from injuries sustained while serving in active duty. In short, the cost of admission to this club is the life of your child.”
She said she was asked to speak about what Some Gave All means to her.
“To me, Some Gave All is not just the loss of my son, PFC Aaron Michael Thomas, but the loss of every child who willingly put on a military or public service uniform and left the security of their home to defend the freedoms of their fellow man.”
She said they tend to honor their combat veterans and KIA.