May 23, 2008
Veterans to be honored with event
June 1 dinner dance set for Country Music Park
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Jennifer Thomas, of Preble, stands in front of the plaques of names of men and women who have served in the military in Cortland County. The Cortland Country Music Park will honor veterans with a special dinner dance.
Jennifer Thomas said it’s important to remember the veterans, not just on Memorial Day, but every day.
She pointed to the Cortland Country Music Park’s veteran’s wall, which commemorates those who have served in the military.
But the park goes a step further with its “Tribute to the Veterans” dinner and dance, an annual event now.
“It’s just to honor the veterans. They have given everything to our country,” said Thomas, a volunteer at the park.
Her late husband, James, was a Vietnam veteran, who died four years ago.
“I love the country music. My husband and I used to come here every Saturday night and Sunday,” she said.
Thomas, who has been involved with the Cortland Country Music Park for about 14 years, agreed to spearhead this year’s dinner dance.
The “Tribute to the Veterans” is slated for June 1 at the Route 13 North, Cortlandville park. The tribute kicks off with a 12:30 ham dinner followed by speaker Patrick Perfetti, the Cortland attorney who did a tour of duty in Iraq with the Navy in 2006. A special color guard is planned and the singing of “God Bless America.” From 2 to 6 p.m., the Route 66 Band will perform.
The event is open to the public. Tickets are available at the park or people can call Thomas at (607) 423-0212. The fee includes dinner and dancing. Country Music Park officials would like reservations by Sunday so they can plan for the meal, which will be ham, potatoes, carrots, cold slaw and cake.
“These veterans are a true tradition of heroes,” said Joan Goodell, Cortland Country Music Park volunteer. “The Cortland Country Music Park is always cognizant of these ordinary people who become extraordinary people who serve our country well.”
The park started the tradition in May, 2001, said Thomas, a senior social welfare examiner for the county Department of Social Services.
“Corky Harris wanted to do something for the veterans. So we tried to keep it as near to Memorial Day as possible,” she said.
Harris, who died in the summer of 2007, came from a military family and was married to a veteran. The first program was dedicated to her husband, Lyman Harris, and she spearheaded the event up until last year’s. At that time, she and Esther Mettot asked Thomas to take it over.
“I didn’t have to think too hard about it but didn’t know what big shoes I’d have to fill,” she said.
Thomas is dedicating this celebration to Harris.
Several cooks and 10 volunteers work at the event.
Anyone who knows a veteran or is a veteran can fill out a form to get their plaque on the wall, which is dedicated to anyone who has served in the military. The wall is for everyone, not just those who are regular attendees at the Country Music Park, Thomas said.
“I think that it’s important that the veterans are recognized … I think right now it’s important, with the current situation with Iraq and everything, but not only those serving in Iraq (but) it’s also for our previous veterans. The previous veterans kind of paved the way, serving our country now and helped make the military what it is today.”
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