A local bakery had little standing room left Saturday morning during a Veterans Day Celebration that showcased stories of those who have served.
Julie Goodnight, owner of Julie’s Sweet Shoppe and Bakery in Conway, has sponsored the event for more than 10 years, showcasing stories of local veterans and giving them the chance to forever share their stories. Before opening her bakery on Veterans Day 2013, she honored local vets at her father’s bakery.
On Saturday, her bakery was filled with local heroes. Every seat in the house was filled, and the isles in between were overflowing with family and loved ones of those who have served, wishing to support and hear Faulkner County’s veterans’ stories.
"She’s done so much in pouring out to veterans in the community," Sen. Jason Rapert said following Saturday’s event. "It’s become not only just an event, it’s actually something that people look forward to."
Rapert presented Goodnight with a citation during the celebration in honor of her dedication to local veterans over the years.
"I was shocked," Goodnight said of the unexpected accolade. "I’m very humbled and honored to have received something like that."
The citation was presented by Rapert on behalf of the state Senate.
"The members of the Arkansas Senate wish to join Senator Jason Rapert and all who gather at Julie’s annual Veterans Day Celebration as they pay tribute to our nation’s veterans whose service and sacrifice have made possible the freedoms we continue to enjoy today," the citation reads.
Goodnight began hosting celebrations on Veterans Day in 2005 as a tribute to her grandfathers.
She said the tradition began after she heard war stories while listening to American Family Radio. Knowing both of her grandfathers served in World War II but realizing she never had the chance to hear their stories, she created a way to preserve and share stories of local heroes.
The stories she collects from local veterans are compiled into a book. Attendees are able to pick up a free copy during the event.
"It gives us something to remember them by," she said, noting many veterans struggle with telling their stories aloud, oftentimes breaking down from memories of their past.
One table at the bakery was set aside strictly for WWII veterans.
Goodnight said she’s noticed the decline in WWII veterans in attendance each year.
"When I started doing this I had about 30 WWII veterans," she said. "Now I have five … We just want to do something to honor them for their services, everything they’ve sacrificed."
Among Saturday’s attendees were two women whose husbands are currently deployed.
U.S. Army Veteran David Hall said the two men are deployed with his son, James Hall.
The women said they attended in support of their husbands.
Saturday’s event also offered refreshments, door prizes and gifts from local sponsors to those who have served.