The ongoing coronavirus crisis prompted the Temple Chamber of Commerce to announce that it has decided to move forward with its annual military luncheon — with a twist.
This year will be the 36th year that the chamber has hosted the Military Appreciation Luncheon, though this time the event will be all virtual. The event will be called the 36th Military & First Responder Appreciation Celebration due to the inclusion of honoring local first responders on the frontlines of fighting the pandemic.
Rod Henry, president and chief executive officer of the chamber, said the theme for this year’s event will be unity within community.
“Every one of the key components of the luncheon program that would have been held are being videotaped,” Henry said. “We are recognizing all of the different groups that have been on the front line of the COVID-19 battle.”
The entire appreciation event will be compiled into a video that will be posted on the chamber’s Facebook page on Nov. 10, right before Veterans Day.
Henry said the video would include most of what attendees at the previous events would experience, including speeches from local leaders and the honoring of former veterans.
The awarding of Vietnam veteran pins, an element of the luncheon each year, has already been filmed but had to be limited to only one person this year, Henry said. The singing of patriotic songs by various groups and the presentation and retirement of the colors are elements of the event that Henry said will be recorded in coming weeks.
Shoutouts by local leaders to recognize the various groups being honored will be placed throughout the video. These will be welcome messages from Temple Mayor Tim Davis, chamber board chairman Drayton McLane III and Bell County Judge David Blackburn.
Henry said other elements may be added to the video as plans continue to be worked out, but details are still being discussed with some of the event’s partners.
“The overall video will be approximately 30-45 minutes in length,” Henry said. “It will mix a message that is mindful of the struggles all have endured since early March, and the importance of the greater Temple community bonding together to help our neighbors.”
In previous years the luncheon has been held at the Frank W. Mayborn Civic and Convention Center in Temple with hundreds of local veterans and military members from Fort Hood in attendance.