KILLEEN — Members of the Killeen-area community gathered together on Sunday to enjoy a Christmas meal and camaraderie at the Gen. Benjamin O. Davis Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9191.
The post’s annual Christmas dinner — which included singing Christmas songs and a full meal of ham, turkey and all the fixings — brought together nearly a hundred veterans, community neighbors, their families and representatives of the city of Killeen.
City Council members Debbie Nash-King and Gregory Johnson, Killeen Police Chief Charles “Chuck” Kimball and Michael Keefe — a candidate for Bell County Justice of the Peace Precinct 4, Place 1 — attended the event to show their support of the post’s work for the local community.
“Any organization like this, which supports the community, I’m all for,” Keefe said. “(Post 9191 has) been around for 70 years, which is pretty impressive. So I’m just here to say, ‘I support you, too.’”
For one veteran and member of the post, the gathering was all about the camaraderie and great food.
“This is part of giving back to the community and celebrating the Christmas spirit,” said Curtis Williams, a Killeen resident.
Members of the post feed on average between 500 to 600 meals each year at the Christmas dinner, said Lee Anna Davis, the post commander. Members of the post had already delivered 275 meals before the dinner began, with plans to deliver even more after.
“We invite the community into the VFW post for a free meal and to just have fellowship, be around individuals who care,” said Lee Anna Davis, the post commander. “We also deliver meals to families who can’t get out of their houses or who are in hospitals.”
The annual event is all about taking care of the community, she said.
“That’s what we do. Everyone may not have the fellowship of having a family around them in the holiday time, so we’re offering that to them,” Davis said. “This is my first Christmas here as the commander, so I’m excited.”
During the ceremony prior to the meal, Davis and Kevin Williams, the post’s senior vice commander, presented a few awards to the winners of the post’s Patriot Pen, Voice of Democracy and Teacher of the Year competitions.
The Patriot Pen award, which is an essay competition on a patriotic subject open to junior high school-aged children, was awarded to Daniela Martinez, along with a check for $300.
The Voice of Democracy, which is an oral recording for high shcool-aged youth, was awarded to Doris Brown, along with $500.
The post’s Teacher of the year was April Calvert, a physical education teacher from Haybranch Elementery School in Killeen.
In Davis’ speech prior to the meal, she spoke about top 10 lists that people make on what the best parts of the Christmas holiday are. Christmas trees, snow and presents were on the list, but the one thing she said she couldn’t find on any of the lists she searched for online was being around friends and family.
“I challenge each of you to watch my favorite Christmas show — which teaches life lessons,” she said. “It’s called, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ Not the remake — the one with Jimmy Stewart in it. It is such an incredible parabale of how we can go from hating our lives to total gratitude and love in an instant.”
Friends, family and that gratitude and love are what the Christmas dinner is all about, she said. It is a tradition the post will continue throughout the post’s future.
“Just being able to give back to the community, even if it is just a hot meal and some camaraderie, means a lot to us,” Davis said. “And that is why we do it.”
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