Veterans to hold annual benefit gala

The Cayman Islands Veterans Association will hold its second annual Veterans Benefit Dinner/Dance on Saturday.

The black tie gala will be held in the main ballroom at the Grand Cayman Marriot Beach Resort, during which former uniformed members have been invited to wear their best dress uniforms.

Association president Capt. Dale Banks said Saturday’s occasion “stands as a salute to everyone in the Cayman Islands who has ever worn a uniform and a fundraising event to raise additional funds to help support the many older veterans who now need our help.”

He explained that the cost of support for local veterans increases every year as prices in the Cayman Islands continue to rise.

“Many of our proud veterans are on fixed incomes and unable to cope. The monies we gather from generous donations on the Annual Poppy Appeal are not able to keep pace with the rising costs. The dinner/dance is our only additional attempt at increasing our fundraising activities,” he said.

Each year, the Veterans Association in Cayman joins the worldwide Poppy Appeal. Earlier this month, members of the organization pinned the first poppy from its annual fundraising campaign on Governor Helen Kilpatrick.

The poppy is symbolic of the veterans’ fallen colleagues who died in war.

Each year, as part of the Poppy Appeal, association members offer poppies to people who make donations. From Saturday, Oct. 12 until Saturday, Nov. 9, the veterans can be found with their tins at public sites and events throughout the islands.

Donations to the association defray the costs of health care and other expenses for members of the association and their widows.

An official church service remembering Caymanians lost in war and at sea will take place at Elmslie Memorial Church in George Town on Sunday, Nov. 10, at 10:45 a.m.

The poppy is a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day due to the poem “In Flanders Fields.” During World War I, vivid red poppies sprang up in the devastated battlefields of northern France and Belgium. In soldiers’ folklore, the flower’s red color came from the blood of their comrades soaking the ground.

The sight of poppies on the battlefield at Ypres in 1915 moved Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae to write the poem.

A glimpse of military life

Saturday’s dinner/dance, which will run from 6 p.m. to midnight, will be held to full military etiquette.

Mr. Banks said the event will give members of the public a look behind the scenes of “some of the mystique surrounding military life.”

“Our theme this year is ‘Recruit training – where it all begins’ and you will be given an insider view of U.K. and U.S. forces’ initial training techniques, as well as clips of first-hand interviews of local military personnel explaining what this transformation has meant to their lives,” Mr. Banks said.

For tickets or to make donations, call 927-8365, 926-5189 or 938-9830.