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Program, Luncheon Honor Veterans
Riverbank's Royal Neighbors Of America hosted a special Veterans' Day lunch at the Riverbank Community Center on Saturday, Nov. 17. This is the fifth year that they hosted this event locally. The Riverbank Royal Neighbors are a non-profit organization that performs community services throughout the Central Valley. The Riverbank Chapter supports senior citizens, active service members, veterans, and schools in the surrounding community.

Organizers Ben and Diane Talbert were busy running around the Community Center on Saturday morning, making sure that things were taken care of and everything was in place for the special event. The doors were opened at 11 a.m. and lunch was served at noon. L & M Blodgett Catering of Escalon catered the luncheon. The lunch is provided at no charge to all veterans and active military, with reservations taken prior to the event to get an accurate count of how many would be attending.

"We honor the vets and this is our way of showing appreciation for the veterans," expressed Ben Talbert.

Along with the luncheon, there were many different activities to entertain the guests. The Riverbank High School band performed songs throughout the event and the Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (R.O.T.C.) students did a presentation of the colors. Diane Talbert put on a complete POW-MIA ceremony. As part of that ceremony, there was an empty table set up with several items that provide significant symbolization for the prisoners of war and those missing in action.

According to information provided about the ceremony, the symbolism is as follows: "The empty table and chair reminds us that the chair may be empty but it is there because we still have hope. The table cloth is white symbolizing the purity of their intentions to respond to their country's call to arms, so that their children could remain free. The lone candle symbolizes the frailty of a prisoner alone, trying to stand up against his oppressors. The single rose reminds us of the loved ones and families of our comrades in arms who keep the faith and await their return. A slice of lemon is on the bread plate to remind us of their bitter fate, if we do not bring them home. There is salt on the plate, symbolic of the family's tears as they wait and remember. The glass is inverted because they cannot toast with us."

Talbert ended the ceremony with a prayer and a moment of silence.

Among those on hand to enjoy the luncheon and take in all the ceremonies was Ed Jones, an Army veteran who served in the military for 14 years. He was deployed during the Korean War to work on precise power for missiles, he explained. Jones made sure that the missiles had power so that when they needed them, they would work. He spent a large part of his time in bunkers when he was overseas.

"It was a good duty. I enjoyed it," said Jones.

In 1969, he started driving an 18-wheeler diesel truck hauling food for a trucking company in Riverbank. Jones has been a Riverbank resident ever since.

When asked what he thought about the veterans' lunch and the Saturday festivities, Jones was quick to answer: "Fabulous, outta sight, terrific!"