Our first Veteran's Day Dinner was amazing. With the generosity of Shanahan's we were able to honor Forest Park Veterans with a complimentary dinner. Attending veteran's were kind enough to share their stories. We look forward to hearing more of these stories in our oral history project.
If you are a veteran and would like to participate in our oral history project please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Even in a close-knit community like Forest Park, there is an awful lot we don’t know about our neighbors—we often don’t know all the struggles they’ve faced, the sacrifices they’ve made, or the obstacles they’ve overcome. Despite the yearly holiday dedicated to honoring them, this is particularly true of our neighbors who are veterans of the Armed Forces. Some of them have served bravely during wartime—seeing and experiencing the horrors of battle firsthand. Others have led lives of quiet dedication to country here at home or abroad. We rarely get to hear their stories.
The Historical Society of Forest Park has dedicated itself to making those stories more widely known and shared. To that end, the Society has begun an oral history project, which seeks to record the stories of our Forest Park veterans for posterity. This effort is being spearheaded by Board Member Nancy Cavaretta, who is actively seeking veterans who are willing to be interviewed on tape, and provide us an enduring record of their service to country.
The Society initiated this effort on Sunday November 12th with a Veterans Day dinner held at Shanahan’s restaurant at 7353 Madison. Forest Park veterans ate free courtesy of Shanahan’s, and were invited to share their stories. 23 people were present—including nine veterans.
Each veteran was invited to share their story---and each veteran gave an account of their service. Joe Byrnes spoke movingly of his service in Vietnam, and of a friend who he thought had died in combat but who contacted him years later to renew the bonds they had forged years earlier. Other veterans gave fascinating testimony of their time in Afghanistan, Germany and here at home. Common themes included the frequency of “military families” where a commitment to military service is passed on from parent to child; the deep friendships that develop in battle; and the lasing benefits of military training and access to education. Two of the veterans were medical doctors.
Veterans attending the event included: Joseph Byrne. Raphael Davis, Patricia Salazar-Davis, Joseph Johnston, Cliff Leber, Debra Funderwhite, Chaplain Chandeep Singh Kabra, and Lt. Col. Dr. Neil Meccia, and Dr. Paul Roach.
The Historical Society plans to make this Veterans Day Dinner a yearly event, and extends its gratitude to all Forest Park veterans—both those who attended this year and those who, it is hoped, will attend future events. It is also grateful to Shanahan’s for providing a space, and their picking up the tab for our Veterans.