The Rapidian

Veterans Day - Wealthy Theatre style

Underwriting support from:

Veterans Day at Wealthy Theatre

"Stars & Stripes"
Wealthy Theatre
Thursday, Nov. 11
5:30 p.m. Doors Open
6:00 p.m. Veterans remarks
 - Michael Tuffelmire
 - Timothy Caldwell
 - Justin Pehlam

6:25 p.m. Multimedia tribute
6:30 p.m. Movie ("Stripes")

Price of Admission:
Free for U.S. Veterans
$5 General Public
Donations Welcome

/Jeff Hudson

We've always wanted to do something proper on Veterans Day at Wealthy Theatre - a tribute that honored Grand Rapids' active and retired military. But we never got it together in time.

This year we connected with U.S. Veteran Michael Tuffelmire (a Rapidian reporter) and, at last, things came together: we're proud to announce our very first Veterans Day event at Wealthy Theatre, titled "Stars & Stripes," beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 11. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

When I first spoke to Tuffelmire about this, at Sparrows News & Coffee Shop, I suggested we screen "Saving Private Ryan." He didn't say anything. A moment passed.

I followed up my suggestion by saying, "But that's why it's so great we're talking, because I'm not a Veteran, and you are - I shouldn't be suggesting the movie, really."

Tuffelmire smiled and shook his head - which I took to mean that he agreed with the last two things I said. "Yeah, that's not really what veterans want to come to sit in a theatre to see, to be honest," he said. "At least not the vets I know."

So I had another suggestion.

"What if we did something that involved the movie "Stripes'?"

Tuffelmire's eyes opened wide and he nodded. That was it. I was pleasantly surprised. And relieved I hadn't stepped on a second claymore.

"And you know what else would make it perfect?" he asked. "We could have a short tribute to veterans living and working in Grand Rapids, before the movie - that's something a lot of people don't know, that there are so many successful, dedicated veterans that are such an important part of this city."

There it is, I thought - an event that accomplishes our goal and fits very well at Wealthy Theatre - perfect.

Our Nov. 11 "Stars & Stripes" event will start at 6 p.m. with comments by Grand Rapids resident, Rapidian writer and U.S. Veteran Michael Tuffelmire.

Michael's comments will be followed a brief keynote speech by veteran Timothy Caldwell, and the presentation of several multimedia profiles of Grand Rapids veterans, on the big screen.

Timothy will introduce Justin Pelham, a disabled veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart for serious wounds he recieved while serving in Iraq. Justin works with The Military Order of the Purple Heart and Segs4Vets. He has even gone to Washington to talk about being wounded. He now dedicates his life to helping his community and people with disabilities.

Justin will then introduce a screening of the classic Bill Murray comedy, "Stripes," at 6:30 p.m.

"Stars & Stripes" is intended to be a first annual Veterans Day event at Wealthy Theatre. Veterans will be admitted free of charge - general admission is $5 and donations are welcome.

You can help. We're still seeking some underwriting to sponsor this event, either privately or publicly - we can acknowledge your contribution or it can be confidential, whichever you prefer. Please email WT Director Erin Wilson if you're able to make a tax-deductible donation to help co-sponsor this important event!

We're also looking for additional Grand Rapids based veterans to feature in our pre-movie profiles - think "baseball cards" for our veterans who live or work locally. Kindly send your photo along with your branch of service, years of service, rank, current job title (optional) and any wars/conflicts in which you participated as a member of the United States military.

Thanks to our nation's veterans and their families!

Disclosure: This article was written by Erin Wilson (Director, Wealthy Theatre).

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