Local military members and their families had their Christmas come early at Amesbury’s Holy Family Parish Hall last night while attending the 12th Annual Support the Troops Christmas Dinner and Reception.
“It’s always a pleasure to be here at this event,” said Amesbury Mayor Thatcher Kezer III, a lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard, who attended his first dinner 10 years ago. “Speaking as a mayor and a military person, this is an event where my two lives come together. So I always look forward to putting on the uniform and joining you.”
With only two weeks left in his term, Kezer shared a quick joke with those attending.
“I look forward to coming back next year as Citizen Kezer,” he said.
Organized by VFW Post 2016, the dinner is held each year in honor of all active duty, reserve or recently discharged military and their families and began as the brainchild of then post Commander John Carter during the Christmas directly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Carter remembered a time during his military career when he was home for Christmas, as was his best friend, yet they never realized it.
“A lot of the kids from high school, they might be home, they might be stationed in Korea, they might be stationed in Iraq or all over the world, but they were all home for Christmas,” said Vietnam Marine Corps veteran and Post 2016 Quartermaster Ski Iworsky. “And this would give them the opportunity to get together and just see what’s going on with each other’s lives.”
Roughly a half dozen people were on hand in that first year, but over the next decade the numbers grew to an average of 150 with 196 dinners being served each year. Last night saw roughly 90 people braving the rain two days before Christmas.