Some were stationed on foreign soil.
Others never left the United States.
Some fought in bloody conflicts.
Others performed their duties in peacetime.
Regardless of where and how they served this country, military veterans of all stripes and their family members are invited to attend the Sixth Annual Veterans Picnic on Saturday, Aug. 5 at Christ the King (CTK) Church in Oxford Township.
Sponsored by the CTK Veterans Ministry and Vietnam Veterans of America Oakland County Chapter 133, the picnic will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The church is located at 1550 W. Drahner Rd.
“It’s a free event,” said CTK Veterans Ministry Leader Bob ten Bosch, a Vietnam War veteran who served in the U.S. Navy from 1966-70. “It’s about giving back to our veterans and honoring their service.”
Ten Bosch expects anywhere from 300 to 400 people to attend this year’s event.
The picnic will include a hog roast, hot dogs, hamburgers and plenty of side dishes. Live music, games, raffles, prizes and line dancing will also be part of the festivities.
Unlike past years, the Michigan Vietnam Veteran Traveling Memorial will not be part of the picnic.
“Unfortunately, that had been spoken for,” ten Bosch said.
However, two car clubs will be there.
“It will be a little bit different this year,” ten Bosch said.
Oakleaf Region Model A Restorer’s Club is slated to bring 10 to 12 of its classic horseless carriages for display.
“They’re going to give rides to some of the vets,” ten Bosch noted.
Flaming Pistons Car Club of Michigan will also have some vintage vehicles on display as well.
Approximately 120 homeless veterans from various Detroit-area shelters are once again expected to attend and enjoy an afternoon filled with food and fellowship.
“They look forward to it immensely,” said ten Bosch, who relishes the opportunity to provide some “joy and happiness” to these forgotten men and women who are enduring civilian lives riddled with personal struggles, hardships and health issues, both physical and mental.
Ten Bosch’s “favorite part of the day” is the opening ceremony when everyone gathers to pray, pay their respects to fallen veterans and listen to the National Anthem. He enjoys the peace and unity of these early moments.
“Honestly, the rest of the day is a blur to me,” he said. “There’s so much going on and I’m going from one thing to another.”
George Teamer, the former commander of the American Legion Cook-Nelson Post 20 in Pontiac, will be among the fallen veterans honored as this year’s picnic. At last year’s event, Teamer suffered a heart attack in the church parking lot and passed away.
“It was just devastating for all of us,” ten Bosch said.
Ten Bosch is grateful to his leadership team, which consists of about 20 people, for working so hard to organize this event year in and year out.
“They’re the ones who really make this thing happen,” he said. “We work all year planning for this picnic and to see it come to fruition is very satisfying. You know you’re doing the right thing.”