ARLINGTON — Christopher St. John served in the Navy from 1997 to 2007, enough time for him to go on four deployments.
He and a fellow American happened to be in London in 2003, when they met two Frenchmen and started playing pool with them.
“My buddy turns to them and says, ‘So, you don’t like Americans, right?'” St. John said. “I was like, ‘Oh, boy,’ but they said, ‘Oh, no. We may dislike your country’s politics, but we don’t dislike you as people.’ They separated the rhetoric from the people who were fighting the wars.”
When St. John reentered civilian life, he became dismayed by negative attitudes toward military members at home, until he read a story that observed that “Thanksgiving shouldn’t just be once a year, because we should give thanks for what we have all year long.”
To that end, although military members are already honored on Veterans Day, Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, St. John wanted to show them the love that their countrymen hold for them during the rest of the year.
As a result, with help from the city of Arlington and the Wounded Warrior Project, the Byrnes Performing Arts Center at Arlington High School will present the community’s first Evening of Honor for Injured Warriors Oct. 8.
“They’ve served us, so we need to serve them,” said St. John, who explained that this charity concert will raise funds to support and boost awareness of the plight of disabled and recovering veterans.
St. John pointed out how these wounds impact not only the warriors themselves, but also their spouses and children.
To provide a personal perspective, the Evening of Honor concert has recruited Iraq war veteran and Purple Heart recipient Jeremiah Pauley to address the crowd as the event’s keynote speaker.
“The general public might not understand, until they hear from someone who was wounded in battle, and had to recover from it,” St. John said. “Twenty veterans a day commit suicide. It doesn’t end when you come back home.”
Seattle country musician Aaron Crawford and Arlington’s own Harvey Creek Band will perform.
Doors open at 6:45 p.m., and the show starts at 7 p.m.