In an intimate Conway sweet shop and café, U. S. armed forces will be hailed and lauded in a heartfelt ceremony on Veterans Day Nov. 11.
This ritual produced here in Julie’s Sweet Shoppe located at the entrance of the Conway Towne Center on highway 65 is the genius of Julie Goodnight who has orchestrated similar events to salute military personnel in Faulkner County. Her assignment has always been to bring together army, marine corps, navy and other military people, give notice to their records and accomplishments, and give them a platform to recite facts of their military lives.
The Nov. 11 assemblies have found scores of veterans coming together to receive plaudits, to relive military experiences and to find warmth and comfort in each other.
On Nov. 11 next, each will be recognized by the masters of ceremonies,
Army Sgts. Jim Woffard and David Hall. They will direct the program that will feature performances by the students of the Miss Carrie’s Day School, the pledge of allegiance, music and a video of excerpts from the Korean War in which Harold Starr of Conway experienced vicious fighting against the North Koreans and Chinese military forces.
Starr was a virtual youngster when he was summoned by Uncle Sam to serve in the far east. He had little training when he was deposited in North Korea to do battle with the hordes of Koreans and their Chinese allies. He was engaged in some of the most intense fighting of the war. With his machine gun in tow, Starr battled tooth and nail ignoring the shrapnel that struck him in several places.
"We were ordered to hold our position at all costs", he recalls, adding that it was vital for the American forces to halt the enemy’s push toward Seoul, the capitol of South Korea.
On this Veterans Day, Starr will be seen in a video that will be screened during the ceremony.
On Monday beginning at 9 a.m., veterans, their families, and others will partake in the program in the Sweet Shoppe that also will signal the opening of Goodnight’s coffee shop.
They are always colorful meetings with many vets dressed in military garb, looking handsome regardless of the number of years they’ve accumulated. The special appeal lies in the fact that local military personages are neighbors and friends.
Their stories capture images of war in colorful language And their remembrances of being in a state of military conflict are often chilling.
"I have for a long time felt admiration for our military men and women," Goodnight said. "I was stimulated by stories of military men and women. I remember hearing a radio program as I drove to work. These veterans were telling stories of what had happened to them during their military service. They were very emotional stories and they got to me. I’d been serving coffee to a bunch of veterans, and I realized that they all had a story to tell. It was then that I decided to honor them with a special event on November 11. And from that time, it grew. A couple of years ago we published a booklet that carried their photographs and told something of their military experiences. It’s been a wonderful experience for me," she said.
Goodnight said that through the generosity of several Conway business enterprises, the event will offer door prizes and other gifts.
It also will be a time to test the chocolate gravy that was a specialty of her grandmother who died in 1991. "I’ve perfected it, "she smiled. "I think it will be a winner. On biscuits, it is fantastic," she said. The Sweet Shoppe will be open at 5 a.m. and serve breakfast, plus a variety of pastries.