VA-lentines for Veterans in Poplar Bluff

Va-lentine's Day honors local veterans

POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - Great music was shared, high honors were given, and even a few tears were shed during a funeral procession in Poplar Bluff on Friday, February 16.

Thousands of veterans and their families were entertained and saluted during the annual 'VA-lentines for Veterans" concert and the day of thanking those for their service had new additions this year.

90 people held American flags Friday morning as they lined the street in front of John J. Pershing Medical Center.

The emotional tribute was a sign of support to a veteran's family who was preparing to lay their service member to rest.

Former Navy Commander John Holland served as part of the honor guard at the cemetery.

"We'll be out in the cold and the rain and the sleet and 100-degree temperatures just to honor those veterans," Holland said. "Last year my honor guard did over 200 military funerals and we cover a 100-mile radius. If a family of a veteran wants a funeral then we will do everything we can to make sure it happens."

Two proclamations from Missouri Governor Eric Greitens and Missouri Senator Doug Libla were awarded to Holland and 12 other veterans during a luncheon inside the hospital.

"It was totally surprising. I really didn't know what to expect when I came up here but it's truly an honor," Holland said. "Of course there are a lot of other people that deserve recognition but you have to limit it to a few and I feel very fortunate to be one of those few."

Those that were presenting the awards also talked each veterans achievements, areas they served and even shared some stories of courage.

Wake Foundation CEO Robert Wake expressed his gratitude platoon sergeant Kermit Patrick Lancey who helped save his life in Iraq.

"He and some others bound all of my wounds and helped deal with the bleeding," Wake said. "And they carried my five flights down a building and into the Humvee and went through an ambush to get me to a hospital."

Wake's foundation helps veterans who struggle once they return home. He calls an event like this just one way of reminding them how much the community cares.

"This is a way to bring back those that feel like their service has been forgotten and it just brings them together," Wake said. "They feel a sense of fulfillment by continuing to be recognized and honored. This is something we plan to continue doing in the future."

The day's events culminated with 6,000 vets getting free tickets to see Shenandoah play live at the Black River Coliseum.

But well before that, the sounds of piano, guitars and singing rang out through the halls inside the medical center.

It came from members of the band Shenandoah, who also played tunes with several veterans and signed and wrote personal messages to them on concert posters.

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