Macon County Chronicle

Citizens Bank Invites Community to Attend Patriotic Program

Citizens Bank will be honoring local veterans on Thursday, November 5th, with the bank’s 9th Annual Veterans Breakfast and Community Patriotic Program featuring Iraqi War Veteran and singer/songwriter Keni Thomas. From 7:30 until 9:30 a.m., all veterans and their spouses are invited to attend a full-scale breakfast at Citizens Bank main branch, located at 400 Hwy 52 By Pass W., where guests will each receive a commemorative gift in appreciation of their service to our country. A POW/MIA table, presented by the Ladies Auxiliary, will also be on display in honor of veterans who gave their lives for our country. 

Following the breakfast, the community is invited to join our local veterans and their families at the patriotic program on the front lawn beginning at 9:30 a.m.

The program will begin with the sound of bagpipes, the posting of the colors by Vietnam Veterans #240, the Pledge of Allegiance, led by our local Boy Scouts, and the National Anthem, sang by Teresa Patterson.

Welcoming remarks will be given by Citizens Bank CEO Pete Williston, and a performance by Keni Thomas will follow.

Thomas, a singer/songwriter who most recently performed the National Anthem before the first game of the 2009 World Series between the Yankees and Phillies, is also a decorated combat veteran of the elite 75th Ranger Rgt special operations unit.

As a military analyst, Thomas has appeared on every major television network including a featured story on Good Morning America and specials on The History and Discovery channels.

As a singer and performer, the former combat soldier has opened the stage for country stars Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Montgomery Gentry, Wynonna, Toby Keith and Lonestar, just to name a few.

Combining his love of country and love of music, Thomas released his debut disc, Flags of Fathers – A Soldier’s Story, a collection of songs inspired by his life in the military and those serving our nation. His latest CD, entitled Gunslinger, features a lineup of songs written or co-written by Thomas, and includes contributions of some of Nashville’s finest songwriters.

Thomas’ work on behalf of our country’s veterans has been recognized by Congress and the National Defense Foundation, and he has been honored with the American Patriot Award, the Carlton Sherwood Media Award and the bronze star for valor.

Thomas is also the national spokesman for the Hero Fund and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which provides college educations to the children of our special ops personnel killed in combat or training.

Aside from the time he spends performing for crowds at large venues, Thomas also takes every opportunity to perform for our troops in Iraq.

Through the years, the Citizens Bank Patriotic Program has offered a variety of speakers and performers including television personalities, Holocaust survivors and last year’s guest Joe Bonsall of the Oakridge Boys, and has hosted several displays honoring veterans including The Wall That Heals and memorabilia showcases.

“This has truly become a community event,” said Citizens Bank Gold Club Director LaRue Polston. “Hosting a breakfast and a program for our veterans is the very least we can do to thank them for their sacrifice. What we hope to achieve each year by having this event is that everyone just takes the time and pauses to thank our veterans and their families for their sacrifice.”

Citizens Bank first held a Veterans Day Breakfast in 2001, which quickly grew into the much-anticipated event it’s become today.

“That first year, so many veterans came wearing their military caps and brought pictures,” Polston remarked. “After we served them breakfast, we noticed that they stayed, visited and reminisced with one another, and it became a forum for them to relive that time in their lives and share that camaraderie. That’s when we realized how important it was for us not only to express our appreciation for them, but for them to have that time together.”

Adding to the breakfast and including a patriotic program the following year, Citizens Bank has made it a goal to attract various age groups and interests with each year’s event.

In addition to Thomas’ performance, Tony Hale will also sing a song written by Macon County’s own Betty Wilkerson, who wrote the song for her husband, a Vietnam War veteran.

A moment of reflection for all fallen veterans will also be included in the program, which will conclude with an invitation for all guests to attend the Veterans Appreciation Program at Lafayette Elementary School at 10:15 a.m. 

For more information, contact Citizens Bank at 666-2195.