Friends and family members of those serving in the military, active or reserve, will gather this evening for the sixth annual candlelight and prayer service.
Prayers will be lifted for members of the U.S. Armed Forces, Reserves, National Guard members and all of their families, as well as for world peace and those devastated by war at the service. Also, members of the Military and Family Support Group will read a roll call of enlisted men and women from the area.
This year, there are approximately 230 service members’ names on the roll call, said Joyce Leidig, once of the coordinators of the Military and Family Support Group.
The program begins at 6 p.m., and again this year will be held at the Margaret and Stuart Coleman Plaza in front of the Depot Civic and Cultural Center. Candles will be provided, but those who need seating are requested to bring lawn chairs. If the weather is too inclement, the event will be moved to Adams Street Community Center. Building safety codes will not allow the “passing of the flame.”
The Military and Family Support Group and several local pastors are coordinating the program. A community choir will help lead music. Any and all who would like to sing with the choir need only to report at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday to the plaza stage. Singers and melodious voices are always needed, and there are no auditions.
“All of these men and women have a Brown County or area tie,” Leidig said. “Our list is compiled from those whose pictures are posted on the Wall of Heroes in the Brown County Courthouse, and from those who were on the list to receive Christmas care packages. Of course, if we’ve missed anybody, their name can be added just before the service.
“Our intent is to remember and honor all of our military. We feel it is important the sacrifices these military members and their families have made and are making for our country not be forgotten,” Leidig said.
Every year, volunteers have worked together to make this program truly outstanding and inspirational, but Leidig said this evening’s program is especially beautiful.
“In addition to the community choir, the Heartland Harmonizers will be singing ‘Eternal Father Strong To Save’ and we’ve been assured the Rev. Ernest Kirk will once again sing ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’ – which every year is just magnificent,” Leidig said.
Other musical offerings include a solo by Jill Goodwin and another offering from the men’s quartet, 4XGrace.
Area clergy including Ken Smith, Jim Looby, John Clifford, Sterling Lentz and Kirk will do scripture readings. And, as they have for several years, Steves’ Market and Deli will serve refreshments of hot apple cider and gingerbread immediately after the service.
“Every year, it would be nice if there could be a tremendous show of support. We wish hundreds – thousands – would attend and we know those who do come feel blessed,” Leidig said. “Listening to the names of our military read one-by-one is so very touching, and this service does honor and remember them. It’s important that we remember and honor those who serve.”