The proud members of American Legion Post 2505 stood tall Sunday afternoon as people from the community praised on them for their service to this country and for making sacrifices to keep citizens everywhere safe.
The event honored the veterans for their awesome bravery in defending their country. The theme was “Honoring Our Hometown Business Entrepreneurs.” The veterans honored were Robert Bonner, a U.S. Air Force veteran; Terrell Ervin, owner of Tee’s Electric and a U.S. Navy veteran, and Kelly Martin, owner of Cyber-Oath Integrated IT Solutions and a Marines veteran.
The group also gave veterans awards to the following business people: John McIntosh, owner of New York Cleaners; Derrick Maxwell, owner of Personal Touch Boutique; Bernadette and Carl Officer from Officer Funeral Home; Patricia Wise, who along with her husband, Lawrence Wise, owns Skate City and Ann’s Maid Service; Leslie Johnson from Leslie’s Barber Shop; Jean McClendon from Kim’s Kids; Billie Miller from Billies Pastries, and Willie Harris, a circulation manager with the Belleville News-Democrat.
All were saluted for their tenacity to stay in East St. Louis amid tough times. Miller was praised for allowing her business to be a safe haven for parents who had to be at work early and needed a place for their children to stay until they were taken to school.
Bonner, who has been a businessman in East St. Louis for 25 years, was the keynote speaker. He said though he hails from Florida and lives in Collinsville, he is an East St. Louisan at heart and has no plans to go anywhere else. He thanked American Legion Post 2505 for recognizing him. And, after thanking them for their service, he told the crowded room of veteran supporters and family members and friends of the award winners that he is living a fulfilled life.
To do that, he said, one has to have food, shelter, safety and love. And another means of living fulfilled is self actualization, which means living up to one’s full potential.
He told the people in the room that they could make a difference in East St. Louis if they realize their full potential. He said faith without work is dead. He implored members of the audience to live fulfilled lives and to reach their maximum potential.
City Councilwoman June Hamilton Dean sat glancing from one veteran to another and said, “I am deeply honored to be here to celebrate our veterans and local honorees. I appreciate their sacrifice and their dedication to this country. My father, Sherman Hamilton, is a veteran. My late husband, Lt. Robert Dean, is a veteran.
John Holman, commander of Post 2505, started the event off by reciting words from a POW/MIA remembrance service. He said, “Those who have served and those currently serving in the uniformed services of the United States, are ever mindful that the sweetness of enduring peace has always been tainted by the bitterness of personal sacrifice. We are compelled to never forget that while we enjoy our daily pleasures, there are others who have endured and may still be enduring the agony of pain, deprivation and imprisonment.”
Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks brought greetings to everyone from the residents of East St. Louis. She thanked the veterans for their service and welcomed everyone in attendance.
Music for the special occasion was provided by Saman and the Taylor Revue. Food and light refreshments were prepared by Bill Mixon of Mixon Insurance Agency, his wife, Linda Mixon, and their crew.
Carolyn P. Smith: 618-239-2503