The Prince William Chamber of Commerce honored active-duty military service members and veterans at its annual Salute to the Armed Forces event last week.
The Oct. 20 event, at the Chantilly Air Jet Center at Manassas Regional Airport, served as a reminder of and tribute to the contributions of military members.
“Those who have served and those currently serving in the military are ever mindful that the sweetness of enduring peace has always been tainted by the bitterness of personal sacrifice,” said Bishop Lyle Dukes in his invocation. “We are compelled to never forget that while we enjoy the daily pleasures that others who have endured, and may be still enduring, the agonies, pain, deprivations and internment,”
Attendees had the opportunity to learn about local veteran-focused businesses, sing along to an armed forces melody, observe the color guard and listen to speakers share insight about their military involvement. Representatives of Marine Corps Base Quantico and Fort Belvoir also shared updates about the military installations.
The keynote speaker was Gen. Larry O. Spencer, who spent over 40 years in the Air Force and retired as a four-star general and the second highest-ranking military member in the Air Force. Spencer shared lessons his grandfather and father taught him growing up and how their service shaped his views on veterans and inspired his work ethic.
“These are the kind of folks I had the pleasure of growing up with and being around…None of them had any money growing up, they were all poor, they had nothing. But none of them ever complained, they never felt sorry for themselves, they never blamed anyone for their lot in life,” Spencer said.
“I watched my grandfather when I was with him on the farm and my father when I lived in southeast D.C go to work everyday. In fact, my father worked two jobs,” he added. “These are the veterans that are out there, that you might walk past in a Walmart or a Costco and have no idea what they’ve been through.”
Today, Spencer is president of the Armed Forces Benefit Association, which provides benefits to veterans, first responders and government employees.
“Meet veterans and ask them about their story,” he said. “They don’t talk about it, but you have to go out and ask. Find out who they are and ask about their story.”