CORNELIUS – Dozens of military veterans and active duty service members marched into Mt. Zion United Methodist Church on Sunday, Nov. 14, some in uniform, others in their Sunday best, and all with looks of pride on their faces.
They are among the more than 50 veterans who attend Mount Zion, and church members gathered to honor them with a special veterans service followed by a celebration luncheon.
“These veterans are living proof that sacrifice always blesses others,” the Rev. Mike Bailey said. “There are those who loved their country more than they loved themselves. They and their comrades likely know more than anyone in this room about sacrifice.”
The veterans and active-duty service members gathered on the front porch of the church before the 11 a.m. service. “This is just like the military, hurry up and wait,” came a quiet voice from the crowd, drawing chuckles. They entered as a group, filing through the church to sit together in the front pews.
Following the service, they stood outside the church receiving thanks and shaking hands, before moving to the family life center for lunch. Jan Horton and her husband, Larry, have planned several of the events and welcomed guests as they entered. Her father, Cleveland Cox, was one of those honored.
“Just growing up in a military family, you learn to appreciate when people serve,” she said, explaining her motivation.
For Jeff Cashion and his family, the celebration is especially poignant.
“One year, I came to this, and I left (for duty) the next day,” Cashion said. He returned from a tour of duty in Iraq in February and came to the celebration with his wife, Kristina; son, Jeffrey; daughter, Taylor; father, Mack, also a veteran; mother, Dixie; niece Olivia; and aunt Martha Archer. Jeff Cashion’s brother, Boyce, also serves.
Cashion, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer, served as a commander with the N.C. National Guard. He has 16 years in the service, three in active duty after enlisting at age 18.
When her husband was sent to Iraq, Kristina Cashion turned to the church as a place of comfort. “I turned to the Bible, to my God, to my friends,” she said. “It brought myself and my children closer.”
The outpouring of support helped her family, including corporate discounts, programs for the children and food dropped off at their home. “I believe right now people are aware of what’s going on and are very appreciative,” she said.
Of the church service, she said, “This is amazing. The church ceremony was so overwhelming and touching. Then to come in here to the lunch, and it was so wonderful. I’m definitely impressed with what they do for the veterans. I know these soldiers appreciated it.”
“I think this is a wonderful thing for the church to do, and I certainly approve of it,” veteran James W. Jackson said. “I hope a lot of other churches do this.”
Jackson was a U.S. Marine who fought in Korean War in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and he was wounded as the Marines returned from the famous battle of Chosin Reservoir. “I was evacuated to a Japanese hospital and sent back after three months, when I spent two more months in Korea,” he said. He later received a Purple Heart medal.
Clyde Caldwell, who served in the U.S. Army in the mid-1950s, sees the celebration as a way to remind young people of service. “It helps them see what has gone before,” he said.
Veterans honored at Mt. Zion Sunday were:
Russ Adrianson, Greg Ainslie, Ed Bost, David Brown, Harry Brown, June Brown, Kenneth (Nick) Brown, Dan Butterfield, Clyde Caldwell, Rick Carter, Mack Cashion, Cleveland Cox, Marvin Deaton, Gary Dickens, LaGette Goodrum, David Greene, Tom Graham, Alan Grunsky, Ted Harviel, Wes Hase, Clinton Hess, Scott Hollingsworth, Doug Honeycutt, William “Ed” Houston, Jim Jackson, Phil Jackson, Ray Jennings, Jeff Knight, Bill Lackey, Ken Lassiter, Wayne Lecce, Floyd Lentz, Richard Little, Howard “Shorty” Little, Dan Long, Rodney Mayhew, George “Heck” McAlister, Joel McConnell, Doug Miller, Lawrence (Red) Moore, Rebecca Ainslie Perez, Randall Rogers, Ernie Sappington, David Sims, Larry Sims, Robert Sims, Jerry Sossamon, Steve Strom, Rodney Whisnant, Gaylon White and Will Young.
Active-duty military honored were:
Jeff Cashion, Chad Causey, Daniel Knight and Daniel Phillips.