Lakeland seniors honor vets, current military

Nathan and Darlene Marcks enjoy the luncheon together. Photos by Kim Odom.

The IH Clubhouse in Lakeland was draped with red, white and blue for the annual Seniors 55+ Stars & Stripes Dinner earlier this summer.

Before enjoying a catered barbecue dinner presented by Baby Jacks and sponsored by Pop-A-Lock, the evening was christened with opening remarks and prayer, followed by a patriotic salute to all the brave men and women who have served and are serving in the military. All veterans in attendance were asked to stand and be honored, followed by everyone standing and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Voices sang in harmony when the Sturges Daily Band (provided by Creative Aging), presented “America the Beautiful,” as pictures of loved ones in their military uniforms scrolled across one wall during a PowerPoint presentation created to run throughout the evening. The pictures were submitted in advance by guests attending the dinner in honor of, or in memory of, grandfathers, dads, sons, brothers, moms, daughters, sisters, nieces and nephews. Several being honored were in attendance, while many of the photos were tributes in memory of family members. Other photos included those currently serving the military.

Tanya Martin, also of Lakeland, honored her dad and her mother with a tribute. “My father, Capt. William R. Miner, was awarded the Purple Heart and the Oak Leaf Cluster. He was in the Invasion of Salerno and also served in North Africa. He was in the infantry.”

Her mother, Madeline Rose Bertasi, was a 2nd lieutenant, serving in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps.

“She served as a nurse for the dying and wounded in the European Theater and back in the States,“ said Martin. “She is honored in the Women in the Military Service Memorial in Washington, D.C., in Arlington National Cemetery.”

She added, “My parents met while in the service and had a military wedding in April of 1945. I was born one year later.”

Gestures of patriotism continued at the Lakeland gathering, as those competing for Best Patriotic Dressed paraded in front of the audience for applause. Draped from head to toe in stars and stripes, Darlene Marcks of Lakeland won the judges’ votes. She was awarded a restaurant gift card for her show of patriotism.

Other prizes given away included service gift certificates donated by Gateway Tire and Service Center, a Safety Nails gift card, Lake District cups and an annual membership to Memphis Botanic Garden as the grand prize.

As the evening came to a close, many guests gathered in front of the wall that displayed the scrolling military photos for one last salute of gratefulness and admiration.