FOREST PARK (KTVI) – St. Louis certainly bounced back from ‘Isaac’, Sunday. The storm washed out day one of the Veterans Festival in Forest Park, Saturday. In spite of ominous skies Sunday morning, the festival was up and running and picking up steam as the sunshine broke through Sunday afternoon.
Organizers felt, they simply “had” to press on, regardless of the soggy start.
Though it began with a bang from an historic cannon, day two of the festival lacked a little, pop at first.
Still, there would be no surrender to the weather or anything else.
‘I think this weather right now is beautiful. It`s relaxing. It`s cool at the same time. We`re moving forward. Rain or shine, veterans never give up,’ said event organizer, Dave Morgan.
So, it was `uncover the vintage tank; drop the rear gate of the Chinook helicopter soon headed for Afghanistan; let history unfold once more`.
The festival had people to reach and stories to tell; like that of the battle of St. Louis and the Milicia de San Carlos: the Spanish fending off the British at St. Louis during the Revolutionary War.
‘They were allies of the colonies. The British did attack St. Louis in 1780 with the idea of eventually controlling the Mississippi River,’ said Bill Brecht, a Revolutionary War reenactor and a member of the Milicia de San Carlos reenactors group. ‘Being defeated by the Spanish, they weren`t able to [take the Mississippi],’ he said.
A Navy ‘rock band’ began 12 hours of live music – and the 101st Airborne Division Association was sharing its story and raising money for a new monument at Jefferson Barracks, commemorating the first parachute jump more than 100 years ago.
Sure, it would have been a shame to have to cancel day 2 of the event because of all the hard work everyone put into it, but there`s was more than that. The event was about more than the history, the good food, good music, and good times.
‘Our goal is to try get our veterans coming back right now back into the transition of life; get them back and get them going. That`s what this is all about,’ Morgan said.
He said last year`s festival drew 10,000-15,000 people, who were exposed to services for veterans in a n festive atmosphere; things like the ‘Give An Hour’ counseling program.
‘We provide services to anyone who was veteran of Iraq or Afghanistan or anyone in the family affected by that. In my private practices I`ve seen mothers who are really affected by the deployment cycle,’ said ‘Give An Hour’ volunteer, therapist-counselor, Charli Prther.
That counseling, like this festival, is free.
‘If we can help one person today for the next few days, this event`s a success. That`s the way we look at it,’ Morgansaid.
Our veterans never quit in the rain, so neither should we.
The Veterans Festival concludes on Labor Day. It’ll run from 10a.m. until 6:00p.m.
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