Events draw hundreds, help vets with benefits

Published 11:44 am Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Vicksburg Convention Center officials estimate about 800 people, including 300 veterans, attended a special program Monday at the center honoring the area’s veterans.

“People have been coming in and out all day,” said Sue Bagby, convention center special events coordinator. “It’s been very steady.”

Monday’s program was part of a two-day Veterans Day observance that began Sunday with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Municipal Rose Garden at Monroe and Crawford streets and concluded Monday with the annual Veterans Day parade and lunch at the convention center.

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Besides the lunch, the convention center program included a display of military vehicles, information about the National Guard, Veterans Administration representatives providing information on veterans benefits and rights, and outreach workers from the G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery VA Medical Center who checked blood pressure and provided information on the center’s services.

Convention Center officials and some veterans said Monday they would like to see the center’s program become an annual event.

“This was a wonderful way to respect the people who served,” said Edward Lee Gusta, a veteran from Port Gibson. “We all got treated right and I appreciated it.”

“This was beautiful. It was a beautiful parade and the lunch was very good,” said Charles Scott Sr. of Vicksburg, Sixth District commander of the American Legion. “I think this is the most the veterans have ever been honored. This should have been done a long time ago. It should be a regular event.”

“I think it’s great,” said Dan Cook of Vicksburg as he left the lunch. “This should be held every year.”

Monday’s program was planned by convention center’s cultural events committee, the Vicksburg Cultural Symposium, which was formed last year. The committee was one of the provisions in the city’s contract with VenuWorks, the Iowa-based management company that manages the center and the Vicksburg City Auditorium.

“We began planning this in May,” Bagby said. “In previous years, each (veterans) organization had its own individual Veterans Day program. The committee worked to bring all the groups together and have a citywide event and reach out to the whole community. It’s worked out very well.”