MADISON — There was plenty of thanksgiving to go around Sunday for Veterans Day at Daystar Chapel, a Pentecostal church on U.S. Route 201 in Madison.

Dozens of guests lined up, shoulder to shoulder, for food served from large crock pots in what has become a growing annual tradition of serving free meals to veterans and their families on Veterans Day, said church Pastor Dell Wing and his wife Pam.

“We just wanted to honor our veterans — we’re a very community minded ministry,” Dell Wing said, adding that the church also does a free meal in the summer for area first responders. “We just felt there needs to be more done to show appreciation to those that have served in the military, whether they be active or not and no matter what branch they serve with. Let them know we appreciate them.”

The Wings said Sunday was their eighth consecutive year of serving up free meals for veterans at their church just north of Clough’s Corner, on what is also known as Lakewood Road in Madison. Last year they said, they served about 70 meals, and early on Sunday it appeared they would meet that challenge again.

“It started with coffee and doughnuts, then lunch and then dinners — it’s evolved as the church grew,” said Pam Wing, as the church women began serving just after 2 p.m. Sunday. The meal would go on until 7 p.m., she said, with food provided by the church, as well as some donations from a handful of area businesses.

The church was established 20 years ago and offers a theme of worship with the outdoor enthusiast in mind, Dell Wing said. The church also sponsors hunter safety and handgun safety courses, archery, trapping and wilderness outings.

On Sunday there were lots of hugs, smiles and lip smacking as the ladies served up enchiladas, salads, bean dishes, chili, pork tenderloin, mashed potatoes, spaghetti, soup and four different kinds of pies.

Tina Richard, of Clinton, a U.S. Navy veteran, said the Daystar Veterans Day meal is an important reminder of the sacrifices made by all military people.

“I think this is great, and they need to be honored,” Richard said. “For me, even though I’m a veteran, I wouldn’t have my freedom if it wasn’t for those people — other veterans.”

Victor Carrigan, 72, a Vietnam veteran from Anson who served in the U.S. Air Force, said he appreciates the welcome home he feels every Veterans Day when he has dinner at the chapel.

“I was there in ’66 and ’67 — I was in Vũng Tàu, that’s along the Mekong Delta, down along the ocean,” Carrigan said, pointing to his Vietnam Veteran cap. “I was in aircraft maintenance and that means I was out on the flight line and there would be a couple hundred yards between you and the jungle with no protection. You were stuck up there on a cherry picker with somebody taking pot shots at ya.”

Carrigan said he was looking forward to his meal.

“I am all for it — I think that for Vietnam and all veterans, it’s time that people kind of acknowledge that most of us give up two to four years of our lives, sometime more, and that’s no small thing,” he said. “So, yeah, I appreciate that other people appreciate.”

Among the younger veterans enjoying the free dinner Sunday was Paul Roderick, 32, of Norridgewock, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2007-2011.

“It’s very nice what they’re doing for the community and the veterans — I also go to this church,” he said. “I think it’s good to honor the veterans for the younger generation to see what the older generation has gone through and gave up because I think we’re losing a lot of respect.”

For the Wings of Daystar Chapel, that about says it all.

“We love our veterans; we love out first responders and this is just a small way to give back to them and the community and say thank you for their service,” Pam Wing said.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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