By Kelly Appelman, Fort Knox PAOMay 20, 2019
In its 14th year, Hooray for Heroes brought hundreds of people out to the Stithton Baptist Church and Walmart Supercenter adjoining parking lots in Radcliff Saturday to celebrate military service members, first responders and their Families.
For Michael Coy, a retired staff sergeant, this event showed that there are people who understand and appreciate what those in uniform do.
"I've been to every one they've ever had," he said.
The last five years, Coy has attended with friend Anita Griffin. Griffin said the event is very special to her.
"It means a lot to me to honor my [late] husband, knowing he's here with me," she said. "I wear this [Vietnam Veteran hat] to honor him."
Don Cecil and Greg Lowe, co-chairs for the event's board of directors, said they put this event on because Soldiers, first responders and their Families don't get enough recognition. As veterans themselves, they understand what life is like as a Soldier.
"We can't do enough for the military, when you stop and think what they actually do," Cecil said. "Without the community support, the event wouldn't be. The community just embraces Hooray for Heroes, and they look forward to it every year."
The event featured live entertainment from Louisville band The Wulfe Brothers, inflatables for children, food and booths from various community organizations -- all free for service members, first responders and their Families.
Among those in the crowd was retired Sgt. Maj. Wilhelm Dahner, who served in World War II, the Korean War and twice in Vietnam. He has been to Hooray for Heroes several times and said he really enjoys all the familiar faces. This year was cause for extra celebration for him as he turned 93 the day of the event.
Each year, organizers establish a special recognition in which a noteworthy group is honored. This year, those involved with the Global War on Terrorism were given a coin in recognition for their service.
The ceremony also included remarks from Maj. Gen. John Evans Jr., commanding general of U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox. Evans acknowledged that the day was special for him because he too is a veteran of the Global War on Terrorism.
"I, like most of the adults in the room can remember with absolute clarity what happened on the 11th of September 2001. It is seared in my memory and my psyche. I will never forget," he said. "I think it's our responsibility as a nation to make sure that those who weren't here with us then never forget because there is evil among us. Thankfully, we've got men and women in uniform that stand up to address that evil."
Evans said he appreciated the hard work and efforts provided by those who organized the festival.
"So much goodness comes out of this event, 14 years strong," Evans said. "I'm proud to be part of it and proud to be here for my second year. I look forward to being here for my third year, with any luck, next year."