BELTON — About 12 World War II veterans stood and were honored at the 43rd annual God and Country Concert at the Mayborn Campus Center at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor campus Sunday.
Although countless other service members, veterans and family members attended the event, First Baptist Church of Belton Pastor Andy Davis said he thought it was particularly important to recognize each WWII veteran by name because they are the oldest living veterans in the nation.
“About two years ago, we emphasized Korea ... and as WWII veterans are going as fast as they are going, we tried to highlight them this time,” he said after the concert.
The 1st Calvary Division Band and church choirs from First Baptist Church of Belton, First Baptist Church of Salado, First Baptist Church of Temple and Taylor’s Valley Baptist Church performed old and new favorites, including “Ragged Old Flag” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” to a nearly full stadium.
Several younger members of First Baptist in Belton opened the ceremony by sprinting around the stadium, waving the American flag as the audience applauded.
After the band performed several songs, Maj. Andreas Wooten, from the 1st Calvary Division, and several soldiers laid a wreath and saluted in memory of fallen soldiers while taps played in the background.
Davis, who has attended 12 God and Country events, said he thought it was important to keep faith and patriotism intertwined, because the country was based on a Christian faith.
Jessica Licata, wife of one of the 1st Calvary Division Band members, agreed.
“I think our founding fathers built on Christianity and believing in God and keeping that alive today is very important,” she aid. “You’re serving a higher purpose than yourself, and you’re giving up and sacrificing for people you’ll never meet and you’ll never know how you’ll impact them.”
Licata said that with all the current service members, veterans and people who just came out to support the concert, that events like God and Country definitely made her feel like she was part of a family she never knew she had.