The Rock Island Esquire Lodge hosted a caravan and presented flags to local veterans. Some attended in person, while others received their gifts outside their homes.
Honoring veterans at a distance is not what organizer Gregg Cotton, Illinois and Wisconsin state director for Elks veteran’s outreach, envisioned. But they made changes to keep those who served safe.
“We’re going to try to make it as contactless as possible,” he said.
Cotton said the pandemic did not stop them from saying thanks.
“Had it not been for them, we would not have been able to do this,” he said.
The cars lined up and made multiple stops, where Colonel Samuel Hall, with the first army on the Rock Island Arsenal, gave his thanks.
“Those veterans that have gone before us and done great things, they’ve sacrificed, their families have sacrificed, and so I’m just honored to be with them,” Hall said.
He said the recognition is important for African Americans.
“Ever since the founding of this country, we fought for freedom. We participated and we showed up and we’ve always been there,” he said. “Maybe not receiving all the accolades and the acknowledgment that we should have, but we’ve always been there.”
Starr Doak, a local veteran, was grateful for the gift.
“It just makes my heart fill with joy,” she said.
She is thankful for the fellowship, especially during the pandemic.
“Today, to be able to share this day with other veterans, is a very joyous occasion,” she said.
Veterans who were honored today served in World War II, Vietnam and Korea.