Honoring Our Veterans

By: Crystal Toussant

In honor of our deserving Veterans, Houston Praise and Worship Center, under the leadership of Bishop Frank A. Rush, Dr. JoAnn Vallie Rush (deceased), and Rev. Sidney Cooper produced the US Armed Forces Day Celebration. This is the second year they have celebrated the sacrifice and dedication of our US Armed Forces. Houston Praise and Worship Center’s objectives are to create better “collaboration, coordination, and communication” by what they have identified as the 7C’s, which include, church, cops, community, college, city, county, and country.

Bishop Frank A. Rush and his “Dream Team” are focused on promoting community appreciation for our past, present, and future US Armed Forces past. They are determined to create an environment that fosters care and concern of the community for those protecting & serving whether foreign or domestic. They are determined to show thanks to God for protecting our Country and the fine service men and women who are the nucleus that ensures our protection.  The Theme of the US Armed Forces Day of Celebration was “God Bless America!” The Scripture, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord!” was the driving force for every part of this inspiring celebration (Psalm 33:12).

U.S. Armed Forces Day Celebration was beautifully emceed by Councilwoman Dr. Carolyn Evans – Shabazz. She was a delightful addition to this event as the leader of District D because there were several integral speakers who were promoting the purpose of bringing important shareholders into our community to promote unity and cooperation. Ray Hunt, the Executive Director of the Houston Police Officers Union spoke about the importance of working collectively to serve our community. Mayor Sylvester Turner was the keynote speaker for the U.S. Armed Forces Day Celebration. Everyone was pleased to see our mayor take time out of his busy schedule to truly connect with the people in the Third Ward community.  Mayor Turner presented a proclamation to Bishop Rush and his “Dream Team” for their continued efforts to celebrate the importance of the U.S. Armed Forces (foreign and domestic) to truly foster trust, love, care, and commitment in our community and throughout the city of Houston.

This motivating celebration was truly a labor of love for the Houston Praise and Worship Center, but they also worked hard to make the event a family fun day, too. Jack Yates High School ROTC participated in the ceremony under the direction of Captain J. Guillory (retired). The Fresh Wind Dance Ministry directed by Min. Rosalind Kyle gave a beautiful performance.

The Caribbean Stilt Walkers led by director Patrice Sadler were a fun addition to the celebration.  Raise The Praise 100 was on hand to interview Mayor Turner and other guests. Joshua Tibbs graced us with his sound engineering skills and barber Tron Madisse blessed our community with free haircuts! Little Ms. Jaiya Patillo, a national track star was on hand to talk to kids about her journey to the 2024 Olympics. There was also a kid zone with a petting zoo, moonwalks, face painting, playground equipment, Jinga, and the Houston Fire Department came out to join the fun. Mr. Robert Dembo Director, the City of Houston Office of Veterans and Military Affairs, and Minister Vicki Cruz, Pre. LULAC, and Chaplain American GI Forum were very important contributors to the success of the U.S. Armed Forces Day Celebration.

There has also been growth since the first event in 2021.  In 2021, there were only 25 vendors, but in 2022, they almost tripled the number of vendors. In 2023, the Houston Praise and Worship Center is projecting an expected 100+ vendors. They have truly created an experience that has become a signature event to promote unity and cooperation in Third Ward and beyond.  This is an example to be duplicated throughout Houston and the nation.

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