On Wednesday, June 12th, the Valparaiso Kiwanis held a send-off luncheon for the military recruits of La Porte and Porter counties. This event, held at Strongbow Inn, brought together all branches of the military before they shipped off for training this summer. Families, friends, veterans, recruiting officers, and Kiwanis members tentatively listened to each brave recruit announce their name, hometown, military branch, and station.
Event coordinator and former Kiwanis President John Bowker explained, “This is an opportunity for the city of Valpo and the Valparaiso Kiwanis Club to say thank you to the recruits. We have welcomed them home in the past, and this our chance to wish them luck as they begin their military careers.”
This was the first event of its kind, and one the Kiwanis Club plans to continue each year. Over seventy-five recruits are coming out of La Porte and Porter counties, and forty-one recruits were able to attend the event. Over lunch the recruits had a chance to talk with fellow recruits from the area and veterans. The meeting kicked off appropriately with blessings for the soldiers and a rendition of “My County ‘Tis of Thee.”
Valparaiso, along with the Kiwanis club, has always been supportive of local military families. They host an annual Veterans Day ceremony in November, and just this AprilMayor Jon Costas issued a proclamation proclaiming April as the month dedicated to supporting military families. This inspired the Kiwanis Club to throw the recruit send-off event.
“We are here to say thank you. You are going to hear that a lot. Thank you, good luck, and God speed,” Bowker said.
Mayor Costas attended the event to meet the recruits and give a special send-off speech.
Costas said, “All the cities deeply appreciate what you do for us. When you leave, you are all in our thoughts in our prayers. You do the difficult and dangerous things so we do not have to. We all recognize that and want to thank you.”