By Wade Linville – Ripley Bee
The Open Arms Always veteran’s support group held its annual Veteran’s Appreciation Dinner at Lake Manor Restaurant on April 2. Receiving special honor at this year’s event was retired U.S. Navy Petty
Officer First Class Rick Rhoades, who received the Honoree of the Year Award. Rhoades’ dedication to supporting former and current U.S. soldiers has spanned well beyond his years of service.
For the past 17 years, Rhoades has emceed and helped to coordinate the Veteran’s Appreciation Night at the Brown County Fair, speaking to the large crowd of fair-goers without the use of notes. Rhoades has also played a huge role in coordinating in Memorial Day events such as the Green Township Parade. He has also been involved with the local VFW in Mt. Orab since his childhood years, his father being a
“Today the reason we are here is to honor someone who has went above and beyond the call of duty,” said retired USMC Colonel Danny Bubp just before handing out the Honoree of the Year Award to Rhoades. “There couldn’t be a better person to recognize, Open Arms Always as the Veteran Appreciation of the Year, than Rick Rhoades,” Bubp added. “I do appreciate this,” said Rhoades just before giving a brief speech in which recognized the JROTC programs at Ripley and Western Brown schools, local VFW’s, as well as paying recognition to nearly everyone who attended the event for their continued support of veterans, events to honor veterans, and programs to assist veterans such as Open Arms Always.
Introduction for the event was given by Bob Liming of Open Arms Always.
Following Liming’s introduction, Kim Brothers paid tribute to her uncle Douglas E. Kiskaden, a late Marine who served multiple tours in Vietnam and was one of the Open Arms Always Founding members.
“He was very special to me,” Childers said of Kiskaden. “I was very honored to know this man. He was like a role model to me.”
Brown County VSO Cheryl Childers later gave a tribute speech for the late George Morgan III, who went on to become a radio personality. “George was a great guy. He motivated me to do a better job for the rest
of our soldiers,” said Childers.
While there were many tables that were occupied by veterans during the Open Arms Always Veteran’s Appreciation Dinner, there was one table that remained empty – the Fallen Soldier’s Table.
U.S. Marine Sergeant Major and Ripley-Union-Lewis-Huntington JROTC Instructor Otis Kokensparger conducted a presentation on the Fallen Soldier’s Table and what each item at the table symbolized.
The table is round to show the everlasting concern for those missing and fallen comrades. The white tablecloth symbolized the purity of the fallen soldiers’ motives when answering the call of duty, and the purity of America. The single red rose in a vase on the table symbolized the blood given, the life of each of the missing, and the loved ones and friends who miss them daily. The red ribbon tied around the vase symbolized the continued determination to remember fallen U.S. soldiers, to account for our missing, and to display the Patriotism that is America. The slice of lemon on the bread plate was to remind us of the bitter fate of those who will never return.
The pinch of salt on the table symbolized the tears endured by the families of those who have fallen or who have not returned. The Bible on the table represented the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost and to find peace.
The lit candle was reminiscent of the light of hope which lives on in one’s heart, the light of America will always be the light in a world of darkness.
The inverted glass on the table and the empty chair symbolized the soldier’s absence and inability to share in a toast. The Fallen Soldier’s Table presentation was followed by the playing of Taps. Providing live entertainment for the afternoon was Bob Lawrence and The Old Path band.
Open Arms Always is a non-profit organization that provides information and monetary assistance, if available, to veterans and their families, whether currently serving or honorably discharged from the American Armed Forces.
For more information, visit http://openarmsalways.org.