The meeting for November 7th was called to order by President Bob at noon. He spoke briefly about the background of Rotary for the benefit of the many people present, in and out of uniform, who were not members of Club 11 and invited those interested to join us at future lunch meetings or other activities.
Here, the gavel was passed to CAPT Mel Burkart, USN (Ret.), longtime member of the MAC, the main co-sponsor of the event with our club, to act as Master of Ceremonies for the rest of the meeting. The colors were presented by the Gateway STEM High School Air Force JROTC color guard and the attendees were led in the singing of the National Anthem by MAC Past Governor Peter Dunne, accompanied by the Missouri National Guard’s 135th Army Band. This was followed by the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
Next came the POW/MIA Ceremony, carried out by an Air Guard team. For those of you not familiar with the ceremony, table for one is set, though no one will use it. The significance of the various elements on the table is explained, followed by a bugler playing “Taps”. Forty years-plus after my commissioning, I still find it an incredibly moving event, especially when performed, as here, by an expert team.
Lunch followed, and the speaker,
General Joseph L. Lengyel, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, addressed the audience. As the Chief, he serves as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with the active duty representatives of the various services and is responsible for the readiness for duty for more than 453,000 soldiers and airmen. GEN Lengyel’s presentation touched on the importance of each of the services and the importance of recognizing that we cannot coast in defense as we have become accustomed to doing since 1989, with its unraveling of the Soviet empire.
Following the presentation, corporate support awards were presented to several of the business sponsors, who had been recognized by the general as well, for the importance of their support for their employees in their participation in the defense of our country. Some employers hamper Guard members. Those recognized are supporters instead.
In addition, 2019 Veteran of the Year (Staff Sgt. Clarence Cherry), the 2019 Veteran of Achievement (Capt. Meredith Knopp) and the 2019 Lifetime Dedication Award recipient (Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Williams) were individually organized.
After closing remarks by Mr. Kevin Cantwell, current president of the MAC, the official song for each of the services was sung, followed by a send-off in song by the MAC Apollos.
Please also thank our Past President Jim Sheets for the all the work that he and the event committee put forth. A great event per usual, but great nonetheless.