Locals recognize military's impact on community
By Lance Cpl. Brian Kester
| | May 21, 2004
MCRD/ERR PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. --
The Greater Beaufort Chamber of Commerce sponsored the 2004 Military Appreciation Day, which kicked off at Shady Point Park aboard MCAS Beaufort Saturday.
The chamber of commerce holds this annual event to show their appreciation for what the military does.
"For me, it is a huge drive to know that the people in the community appreciate what we do," said Staff Sgt. John Lee, Combat Visual Information Center photo chief. "Having something like this shows that all of the hard work that we have done for our country is a good thing and the people of the United States appreciate it."
The message of the event was realized by the people who turned out for the event. Former service members and active duty bridged the generation gap, through their respect for what they have done or are doing to serve their country.
Cpl. Joseph Strain, a military police K-9 handler, spent part of his day at the park visiting with members of AMVETs and the Leather-necks, all former military and current members of the community.
"Sometimes, the military kind of starves from a lack of appreciation on a day-to-day basis," said Strain. "When the community does stuff like this, it reminds us that we are cared for."
The park was filled with laughing children having fun while climbing inflatable mountains and visiting with Tux the clown. Some grilled food for the service members to show their support, while others simply provided smiles. All of the various forms of entertainment gave attendees the chance to kick back, relax and have some fun.
"It is about the quality of life and recognizing that we appreciate the military," said Crystal Dilliard, registered nurse and the Marine Corps Community Services-South Carolina health promotion director for MCAS and the Depot. "This was just a good chance to provide a day of free fun and activities where people could come and be appreciated, and they don't have to pay for anything."
"Many of the members of the community and volunteers on the bases want to show their appreciation, but they never get the chance," she added. "This event was their opportunity to express their gratitude.
"I am grateful to have the opportunity to help at this level," said Dilliard, who has been involved with the Marine Corps for more than 20 years. "Often, we don't recognize what the military does for us, even at home."
In one way or another the community in Beaufort has been supporting the military since the early 1900s.
"A lot of the people in the community are former military," said Lee. "That really shows a great amount of appreciation to me, because it tells me what I do, is picking up the torch and carrying on."
The idea of carrying on is common in the minds of many who are close to getting out of the military.
"We've been a part of the community for a long time," said Master Sgt. Steve Pethe, ordinance division chief at MCAS. "When I retire, I plan on staying here and supporting the military and wishing them the best as well. For the Marines and sailors who just got here, who don't realize the community is involved with the military, this is a good time for them to see that. I hope it makes them feel better about Beaufort."