Among the veterans at the 20th Annual Military Luncheon were two members of VFW 11333. (Photo: Gary S. Whitlow/GSW Enterprises/The New Tri-State Defender)

“Thank you for your service,” which can be heard year-round in Memphis-Shelby County, is amplified annually during the week that brings November 11, the day officially designated to pay tribute to those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The 20th Annual Military Luncheon – hosted on Wednesday by Mayor Jim Strickland and Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris – helped turn up the volume on the 2022 celebration of Veteran’s Day.

Mayor Jim Strickland and Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris lock in on a message delivered at the 20th Annual Military Luncheon hosted by the two mayors. (Photo: Gary S. Whitlow/GSW Enterprises/The New Tri-State Defender)

Strickland reflected on the annual military salute during his weekly update.

“I did not serve in the military,” the mayor observed, but “I must remind myself all the time that it is not just that military personnel served our country and put themselves in harm’s way, but they placed their own lives on hold to do that. That’s real sacrifice. That’s real service. …

“I want you to know personally how much my family and I – as well as the 630,000 residents of our city – appreciate you and what you have done and what you are doing.”

Veteran Thomas McGhee, a conflict resolution specialist at the Naval Support Activity Mid-South in Millington, is a Millington Alderman and assistant pastor at Impact Ministries. McGhee shared reflections at the Military Luncheon. (Photo: Gary S. Whitlow/GSW Enterprises/The New Tri-State Defender)

 

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris. (Photo: Gary S. Whitlow/GSW Enterprises/The New Tri-State Defender)

Reflecting on Veteran’s Day via his social media outlet, Harris said, “We are grateful for the veterans who have risked their lives for our country. Like John Bogan, our Shelby County Veteran of the Year, said, ‘Tell a veteran thank you for your freedom.’ So, to all of our service women and men on this Veterans Day, thank you for everything.”

Rep. Steve Cohen spoke at the luncheon, noting his ongoing work on behalf of veterans. He amplified on that during his Veterans Day outreach to his District 9 constituents.

Rep. Steve Cohen at the 20th Annual Military Luncheon. (Photo: Gary S. Whitlow/GSW Enterprises/The New Tri-State Defender)

“This week, I introduced the Veterans Protection from Fraud Act,” Cohen observed. “Next week, I hope to pass my bill to rename the Memphis VA Medical Center for Luke Weathers Jr., the late U.S. Army Air Force officer and World War II combat fighter pilot with the Tuskegee Airmen “Red Tails.”

Cohn also encouraged veterans to visit www.VA.gov/PACT to determine eligibility and to apply for benefits extended by the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act.

“I was proud to vote for this bill when it passed in the House of Representatives on July 13, 2022,” Cohen shared.  “Under the PACT Act, millions of veterans who are suffering from dozens of conditions related to toxic exposure may now be eligible for health care and disability benefits. Veterans ranging from those exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam all the way through modern-day conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will benefit from this new law.”

State Rep. Antonio Parkinson, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps and took part in the Desert Storm campaign, was among several others to address the luncheon crowd. He shared how his Air Force recruiter died, “which forced me to deciding to go into the Marine Corps, which brought me to Memphis.”

State Rep. Antonio Parkinson at the Military Luncheon. (Photo: Gary S. Whitlow/GSW Enterprises/The New Tri-State Defender)

Parkinson said the Air Force and Marine Corps “saw what I could be even when the school counselors didn’t.”

Asked later about the lesson to be drawn from his account, Parkinson said, “Just because one doesn’t see your potential, someone else can.”

GALLERY