The 74th Annual Veterans Dinner — presented by the Winnebago County Veterans Association and Veterans Memorial Hall — will be at 5:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 7, at Cliffbreakers, 700 W. Riverside Blvd., Rockford.
Keynote speaker for the evening will be Joseph L. Galloway, who co-wrote with Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Hal Moore the national bestseller We Were Soldiers Once … and Young, which was made into the critically acclaimed movie We Were Soldiers starring Mel Gibson.
Galloway was one of America’s premier war and foreign correspondents for half a century. During the course of 15 years of foreign postings — including assignments in Japan, Indonesia, India, Singapore and three years as UPI bureau chief in Moscow in the former Soviet Union — Galloway served four tours as a war correspondent in Vietnam and also covered the 1971 India-Pakistan War and half a dozen other combat operations. Last year, Military History magazine polled 50 leading historians to choose the 10 Greatest Books Ever Written on War. We Were Soldiers Once … and Young was among those 10 books.
June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 was designated as Veterans Day to all who served — past, present and future. Seventy-seven years ago, on Aug. 13, 1937, a group of men in Rockford known as the Ex-Servicemen’s Organization founded the Veterans Day Banquet hosting the first dinner on Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1938, at the Bethesda Covenant Church. The keynote speaker was Charles G. Seidel. In 1939, a second Armistice Day Banquet was held at First Lutheran Church, with Dr. J. Oliver Buswell, president of Wheaton College, as keynote speaker.
In 1939, the organization’s name was changed from “Post of Ex-Service Men” to a “Post of War Service Men.” In 1944, Daniel Post was accepted into the American Legion and became Post No. 864. The American Legion Daniel Post No. 864 sponsored the banquet until 1998, when the Winnebago County Veterans Association took the responsibility to preserve continuity of the banquets honoring all veterans. The banquet has been held each year to honor veterans who served in the military.
Social hour and cocktails will begin at 5:30 p.m., and dinner will be served at 7 p.m. The Veterans Dinner Program will follow dinner. A single entree featuring turkey is offered. Tickets are $250 per table of eight or $35 each. Contact Scott Lewandowski at (815) 969-1999 for tickets or more information.
From the Nov. 5-11, 2014, issue