"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them."
These are the words of poet Laurence Binyon in the fourth verse of "For The Fallen," a timeless World War I poem. It was written at a historic moment — just after the Allied retreat from the battle at Mons, France, on the way to a victory at the Battle of the Marne.
In 1954, following the Korean War, Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day. Nov. 11 became a national holiday to express gratitude to veterans of all wars and to honor all veterans, living or deceased, who served in the military — in wartime or in peacetime.
Again this year, the Traverse City Senior Center and the Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home will be honoring local veterans at the 8th Annual Veterans Dinner Dance, to be held on Friday, Nov. 12, at the Elks Club of Traverse City.
"We've been sponsoring the Veterans Day Dinner for several years," said Peg Jonkhoff, of Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home. "And various programs have been done — last year, "'M*A*S*H"' was the theme and before that was a wonderful program for our local honor guard — VFW honor guard — that attends all of the services for veterans who have passed away here in Traverse City.
"This dinner is our way to honor and to thank our local veterans for their sacrifice," she said.
At this year's dinner dance, Reynolds-Jonkhoff will be presenting a documentary film by Larry Cappetto, producer of the award-winning TV documentary series, "Lest They Be Forgotten."
This film is an edited version of the total documentary series. It opens up with a segment done on "CBS News," which introduced the production of his documentaries.
"The project is the result of my passion for our country and the historical value of the interviews I gather, when I interview veterans," Cappetto said.
"My father served during the Korean War and my uncle served during World War II, so there is some military history in my family. But I think more importantly, this is something I feel needs to be done to help us remember the sacrifices that have been made for our country.
"Another part of why I am producing this series is to share with the younger generation the history of what I have reported — and help teach them the fact that freedom is not free," he said.
Cappetto started documenting and recording stories from America's war veterans in Colorado eight years ago. The first interviews were in Phoenix, Ariz.
Cappetto estimates that 10 years from now, there won't be many World War II veterans left to tell their stories. His mission is to find and record their stories before it is too late.
Reynolds-Jonkhoff is also sponsoring Cappetto's visit to Traverse City, sometime near the second week of May. In collaboration with the History Center, Cappetto is planning on three days for taping selected local veterans' stories.
"I am not after the blood and guts of war, I am after the personal side of their experience — how they went to war as a young man or in some cases young woman — and how it changed them," Cappetto said. "How they transitioned back into society and civilian life."
"We're sponsoring Larry to come here — to catch our veterans' stories," Peg Jonkhoff began.
"So, Traverse City can be a part of the national picture … how cool is that?" Dan Jonkhoff finished.
Reservations are required for this Veterans Day event, as there is limited seating. For more information and reservations, contact the Senior Center at 922-4911 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kathleen Bellaw Gest is a local freelance writer. For more about the Traverse City Senior Center, go to www.tcseniorcenter.com.