By Eric Faulkner
The Veterans of Amarillo College hosted a luncheon in the Oak Room of the College Union Building Wednesday in honor of Veterans Day.
The event was catered by the Big Texan and featured VAC along with other veterans in the community. About 120 people attended the luncheon, including veterans, their families and civilians.
“Our goal is to bring all vets at AC together to remember their sacrifice,” said Norman Bearden, a veterans resource and referral specialist. “It’s also a chance to network not only academically, but with employment opportunities, too.”
Bearden stressed the availability of resources to veterans.
“It’s important for our vets to know that they always have someone and somewhere to turn to,” he said.
The guest speaker for the event was Gunnery Sgt. Kent Pendleton, who has served in the Marine Corps since 1998. His message to the vets was one of remembrance.
“It’s a privilege to speak at something like this,” Pendleton said. “For a lot of people in the room, it’s a memorial. It’s a selfless sacrifice that only we understand.”
A sense of pride filled the room for those who have served. AC Support Coordinator Fred Baldivia described it as “the best feeling in the world.”
“We all understand each other like nobody else can,” he said.
“Most of these, with the exception of some of the Vietnam guys, signed up to do this for their country, and a lot of Vietnam vets enlisted as well,” Pendleton said. “It’s important to recognize those who served and
appreciate them, or we risk becoming a lost culture.”
“It’s a day to take time out and thank those who serve our country and understand the weight of the sacrifice these men and women have made,” Baldiva said.
VAC serves veterans and their community. It was announced at the luncheon that VAC has won two years in a row in the Amarillo Veterans Day parade.
Upcoming plans for the group include a Toys for Tots drive that will run through Nov. 22. Angel De La Cruz, VAC president and a history education major, said there will be boxes around AC campuses for students to donate new or gently used toys.
“We plan to keep raising funds to be able to pay for our scholarship,” De La Cruz said.
It was announced at the luncheon that the scholarship was named for Army veteran and AC faculty member Joe Gandy. The Joe Gandy Scholarship was created to help a veteran student with school expenses. It is funded by two quilts VAC members made and raffled off last semester.
VAC meets regularly on the second Tuesday and fourth Friday of each month in the private dining room in the CUB.
Published: Friday, November 11, 2011