Area churches plan tribute to veterans

Special to The Sun
Carol Ponder and Robert Kiefer perform the play "My Father’s War." [SPECIAL TO THE SUN]

Several United Methodist Churches in the area have planned an exciting celebration for Veterans Day this year. The celebration will include patriotic music and a special production from a Nashville theatre company, “My Father’s War.”

The play is the story of a WWII veteran who reflects, at the end of his life, on the war, what he experienced in war, and the sacrifices every veteran makes.

A Tribute to Veterans is being sponsored at 6 p.m. Nov. 8 by First United Methodist Church in Port St. Joe; at 6 p.m. Nov. 9 at St. Andrews UMC in Panama City; at 3 p.m. Nov. 12 at Point Washington UMC in Santa Rosa Beach; and at 6 p.m. Nov. 13 at First United Methodist Church in Fort Walton Beach.

Every church will offer a unique presentation of patriotic music before the play, "My Father’s War." Special ways to recognize and appreciate veterans are also planned by each of the area churches.

"My Father’s War, A Story of War, Survival and Grace" is written, directed and performed by Carol Ponder and Robert Kiefer. It is based on the memoir “Ponder Anew” that was written by her father, Lt. Hershel Ponder. Ponder and Kiefer have more than 50 years of experience performing in venues including The Kennedy Center, The Tennessee Performing Arts Center, The Alabama Shakespeare Festival, and numerous art centers, theaters, and colleges/universities in the United States.

Ponder’s father enlisted in the Army Air Corps right after Pearl Harbor and fought in WWII.

“After not talking about his war for 44 years, my father found real healing from his war’s invisible wounds by writing and sharing his story,” she said. “Every word that is spoken by Robert, who plays my father, is straight from my father’s original manuscript. To augment the sense of time and place, we’ve enriched the story with family-favorite songs from the period.”

"My Father’s War" has been recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs as a wonderful catalyst for healing and dialogue. Everyone is invited to attend this memorable event.

“One of my father’s most important identities was that of veteran,” said Pat Luna, organizer and member of Point Washington. “I am so proud of my father’s legacy and service to our country. We have so many veterans in our area so we wanted to organize a special recognition of these men and women for Veterans Day. I am thrilled that these four churches have worked together to bring an amazing tribute for the people in our area. It is going to be wonderful.”