The community can join a Maple Valley church, the governor’s spouse and other dignitaries next week in honoring military personnel who have returned home from war zones.
Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church will host “Welcome Home, Hero,” a program saluting soldiers for their service.
The event, scheduled for 12:15 p.m. Oct. 19 at the church, will include appearances by Mike Gregoire, husband of Governor Christine Gregoire, and U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert.
With Veterans Day on Nov. 11 about a month away, “we have a perfect opportunity to honor soldiers serving our country,” said Louise Brown, organizer of the event and leader of the Christian Friends of Soldiers Ministry at the church. “We look forward to saying thank you to these young men and women. And we invite all soldiers, past and present, and the community to join us.”
The festivities will begin with a presentation of the colors by Boy Scouts Troop 711 and support from Veterans of Foreign Wars, followed by prayers of thanksgiving, songs and remarks from military members, dignitaries and local pastors. The event will end with a reception.
John Lee, director of the state’s Department of Veteran Affairs, has accepted an invitation to the event. So have state Rep. Glenn Anderson and Maple Valley Mayor Laure Iddings, Brown said.
Christian Friends of Soldiers Ministry started about five years ago. Brown and her husband, Tom, who are members of Shepherd of the Valley, wanted to support military personnel serving in combat overseas. The couple’s son, James Brown, has been deployed to Iraq twice.
The ministry hosts regular box-packing events for items donated for troops. Hundreds of boxes have been shipped in the past 12 months. Two such two-day “parties,” as organizers call them, are planned in advance of Thanksgiving and Christmas. The first will be on Nov. 14-15, and the second on Nov. 28-29. Also, a donation drive is scheduled for Nov. 8 at the Safeway store in Maple Valley.
Brown said volunteers are needed “to sort and pack boxes, fill out customs forms (for shipping the boxes) and write postcards. We welcome all helpers who have a heart for our troops and want to make sure the holidays are just a little brighter for these brave souls.”
Donations of items and money, the latter to help pay for postage and packing materials for the shipments, can also be made at Shepherd of the Valley, which is located at 23855 SE. 216th St.