On June 18th, 2015, the IWLA Chapter and the Front Royal Elks Lodge teamed up to host nearly 40 Veterans from the Martinsburg, WV, Veterans
Administration Medical Center (VAMC) for a full day of outdoor activities.
morning the guests initially arrived at the beautiful, tranquil 155-acre
secluded park that is home to the Warren County Chapter. A part of this
property boarders the Shenandoah
National Park. Their first glimpse of the Park was that of a large welcome banner
prominently displayed in the parking area.The visitors,
all resident ambulatory patients at the Martinsburg hospital, participated in
archery, fishing in a large, well-stocked pond, and some even went on a guided
hike along the property’s scenic trails, led by Chapter President Harry Reed.
Others simply relaxed and enjoyed the peaceful setting…that was periodically interrupted
by whoops of delight as the guests began to pull in fish of various sizes.
Prizes were awarded (on a somewhat loose basis) for the first, the largest, the
most and the smallest fish. The fisherman and women caught numerous bass,
trout, and a great many smaller pan fish. The excitement level was high and a
good-natured competitive spirit was very much in evidence throughout the
morning. Several of the younger veterans actually caught their first-ever fish
at this outing…no doubt creating memories that will forever linger in their
Chapter provided refreshments for the guests, and at noon, when the time came
to depart, there was an obvious reluctance to leave such a serene and relaxing
venue. The buses then made the short trek to the Front Royal Elks Lodge where
the Lodge House Committee and many volunteers had been busy preparing a hearty
cookout luncheon. The Veterans were greeted with loud applause as they debarked
from their buses. Lodge President Dennis Henline welcomed them and thanked
them for sharing their day with the Front Royal community.
After a filling lunch, the guests were free to participate in several yard games (horse
shoes, corn hole) and many engaged an exciting game of Trivia. The Veterans,
Izaak Walton members, and Elks, plus numerous other volunteers – one of whom
was a local 100-year-old lady veteran of WWII, who was warmly applauded by the
VAMC veterans – engaged in a lot of interpersonal mingling and pleasant
conclusion of the afternoon, arrangements had been made for a Front Royal
Police escort, consisting of 3 police cruisers, to assist the VA buses in
navigating the rush-hour traffic as they headed back to Martinsburg. Many of
the Veterans felt a true sense of pride at receiving the police escort, while
others voiced some light-hearted concern about having been shown out of town by
a contingent of the local police force.
members of both the IWLA Chapter and the Elks Lodge, as well as many
volunteers, including several children, from within the community, were present
at both locations and helped make the day a wonderful success and permitted the
tired, but happy Veterans to take away some tremendous memories.
Of note: One
of the veterans who had completed his program at the Medical Center the day
before this event, wanted so strongly to participate, that he had delayed his
return to his home in New York state by one day, so he could attend. Prior to
boarding his bus, he stated that, while he was anxious to be reunited with his
family, he was extremely happy that he had made this fantastic trip to Front
Royal and had experienced the opportunity to meet so many wonderful
people…whether IWLA members or Elks, they were all Americans taking the time to
sincerely thank these veterans for their service to our country.
activities were scheduled and coordinated by the Warren County (Virginia)
Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America and Front Royal Elks Lodge
Veterans Service Committee.