A church in Wake Forest, N.C., is expecting more than 1,200 people to gather for a Memorial Day picnic – the state's largest – on Monday to honor veterans who have served America and to give glory to God for His providential acts in the country's history.
Hosted by Hope Baptist Church, the all-day outdoor Old-Fashioned Memorial Day Picnic will feature patriotic speeches, live music, a free barbecue lunch, rides in vintage military vehicles, a children's parade, a living history camp, and special remarks by two WWII veterans, the church announced Saturday.
"We owe a great debt to the sacrifice our veterans have made to oppose tyranny and defend our nation's cherished liberties," Scott T. Brown, a church elder and the organizer, said in a statement.
Brown, who has organized the church's annual event for more than 12 years and offered his private farm for the festivities, believes God commands Christians to honor our fathers. "It's our privilege to do this in some small way at our annual picnic – to say 'thank you' to those brave soldiers who have stood in the breach for us."
The church will erect a large tent on the Brown Family Farm for the picnic, which will be held "rain-or-shine." Participants have been asked to bring their own picnic blankets and lawn chairs.
The organizer's father, P-51 Mustang pilot Bill Brown who was shot down over Tokyo Bay during World War II, and "Colonel" Bill Henderson, who served with the Marine Corps and endured 36 days of brutal fighting during the Battle of Iwo Jima, are among the speakers. Brown Jr. and another church elder, Dan Horn, will also speak.
"Freedom is not free, and many of our veterans have paid the ultimate price so that we might be free from the shackles of despotism that have plagued so many," Brown said. "Their sacrifice is, in a sense, a picture of the Gospel, as Jesus Christ gave his life to free us from the chains of sin. We will honor both these legacies when we gather together this Monday – the sacrifice of America's veterans and of our great God who cares for His own."
The activities include a ride on restored vehicles from the WWII era for children, and music by the Froemming Family Band and the Allen Sisters.
"We are privileged to welcome the community to join us on Monday for this special family event. Come ride jeeps with us – sing and feast with us – and let your children be blessed to meet and hear the stories of old veterans who are real heroes," Brown added.