Community Military Appreciation Committee celebrates military, veterans, as well as our first responders
VANCOUVER — Awards were given out to a few, but only as a way to represent so many.
There were so many heroes Saturday at Heroes Night, in fact, that the parking lot at the east Vancouver Costco was full, with the overflow crowd going across the street at a local church.
Oh, part of it was because of the dozens and dozens of automobiles for the car show that went along with Heroes Night, but you get the picture.
It was packed.
And it was appreciated.
“It’s always nice to get out and visit with other veterans,” said Dale Doherty, a Vietnam veteran who now lives in Washougal. “I shook a lot of hands and got a lot of hugs today. That means a lot to me. It’s a blessing to be out here.”
Heroes Night, an event to benefit the Community Military Appreciation Committee, featured a car show as well as veterans and vendor booths in an effort to honor present-day military and those who served in the past.
For the past couple of years, the event also has recognized local law enforcement and rescue personnel in “an effort to elevate what they do for the community,” according to Dan Sockle, a spokesperson for CMAC.
This year, Heroes Night awarded Julie Ballou of Vancouver Police Department and Albin Boyse of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office with its Bill Morehouse Community Service Award.
They were both recognized for their longtime efforts in volunteering with the Police Activities League, working with local youth.
Julie Burger was saluted for “a life dedicated to serving community and country.” Burger, who lives in Vancouver, worked for the American Red Cross for more than 50 years, traveling all over the world to help people in need.
The Groundbreaking Service to Community and Country award went to 96-year-old Penny D. Messinger, also known as “one of our beloved Rosie the Riveters” for her work in World War II.
The awards came late in the event, inside Costco. Earlier, the action was outside. Dozens of Corvettes, Camaros, and other cars were on display. There was a fire truck, a police SUV, and a Bobcat from the sheriff’s office for anyone to get a closer look.
Up in the air, three bi-planes gave a fly-by or three or four, circling east Vancouver.
A number of veterans rode their motorcycles and put them on display, as well. Ray Sutela of Vancouver allowed children to sit on his motorcycle so parents could take pictures.
A Vietnam Veteran and former Navy sailor, he said events like Heroes Night really are important to him.
“When I got home, nobody said anything,” Sutela said. “My best friends blew me off.”
He added that it took him many, many years to appreciate his own military service. Events like these are a big help.
Doherty, a former U.S. Marine, said Heroes Night brings a tear to his eyes.
“I love veterans, and I love the people who support them,” Doherty said.