ST. GEORGE — Veterans and active duty members of the United States military were the overwhelming focus of the Daughters of the American Revolution Color Country Chapter’s Christmas luncheon Tuesday where two military veterans were presented with the 2017 Community Service Awards.
Each year, the National Daughters of the American Revolution allows each chapter to present the community service award to two people, said Karen Shuman, regent for the Color Country Chapter.
In order to honor the recipients, the chapter sends information about the individuals they hope to honor including news articles they appear in and acts of service they do.
This year, the DAR Color Country Chapter chose to honor Tom Cover and Marti Bigbie.
Cover is a resident of SunRiver St. George and a retired Marine. With the help of dedicated community members, Cover helped create and fundraise for the SunRiver Veterans Honor Park, a symbolic patriotic feature in the SunRiver community that was dedicated Nov. 11, 2011.
The park hosts two major ceremonies each year that honor veterans – one on Veterans Day and one on Memorial Day – and Cover helps coordinate and oversee each ceremony.
Cover also watches over the park from his nearby home and helps raise funds for necessary maintenance, including flag replacement.
“Tom’s love for his country is deeply felt by the way he freely obligates himself to provide the care and support of this Veterans Honor Park. As a result, Daughters of the American Revolution Color Country Chapter is proud to recognize and honor him as our 2017 Community Service Award recipient,” Shuman said in a letter recommending Cover as the community service award recipient.
Vice Regent Valerie King presented the award to Cover along with a gift of appreciation for his service.
Bigbie is the commander of American Legion Post 90 in St. George and commander of District 7, which means she leads all 16 American Legion posts in Southern Utah.
“Martha Bigbie is an Air Force veteran who literally loves veterans and their families with all her heart and soul. So much so, she fully retired from her professional daytime job to become the full-time commander of local American Legion Post 90,” Shuman said.
Bigbie’s motto is “let no veteran or family member be forgotten.” It is a motto she embodies in her love for the veterans of the community.
“Never forget a veteran. I will not do that,” Bigbie said.
Shuman presented the award to Bigbie along with a gift of appreciation as well.
Both Cover and Bigbie were surprised by the honor, they said.
As ancestors of those who fought in the Revolutionary War, the Daughters of the American Revolution place a high value on honoring the nation’s veterans, King said in a previous St. George News story.
The group’s love for serving veterans was evidenced during the luncheon in several ways.
Each guest in attendance was given a blank Christmas card and asked to write a small note of appreciation to troops serving in Afghanistan and each table was given a list of items that veterans living in nursing homes and throughout the community need and want during the holidays.
The DAR Color Country Chapter has pledged to help Bigbie throughout the coming year to make and gather these items for Christmas 2018.
The group has also been instrumental these past few years in helping the Civil Air Patrol St. George Composite Squadron with fundraising efforts to purchase Christmas wreaths for the Wreaths Across America program.
This year, wreaths will be placed on the graves of deceased military veterans in a Wreaths Across America ceremonies to be held Saturday at Tonaquint Cemetery at 10 a.m. and at the Shivwits Band of Paiutes Cemetery at 1 p.m.
During the luncheon, several others were honored for their help in raising funds to purchase the wreaths, which cost $15 a piece. Included among those honored was Dave Walters with the Marine Corps League Detachment 1270 and Laura Levigne who manages Zion Harley Davidson.
Lavigne, along with others at Zion Harley Davidson, hosts an annual barbecue fundraiser for Wreaths Across America as well as several other military benefits at the store.
The Color Country Chapter set a goal during the luncheon to help raise enough funds next year to buy enough Christmas wreaths for all the veterans’ graves in the St. George Cemetery as well as Tonaquint and the Shivwits Band of Paiute cemeteries.
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