One of the hardest things for combat veterans to talk about is their experience in war, but Lt. Col. Kelly Donna says that helps him cope with his memories.
“It gets much easier the more you talk about it,” says Donna, professor of military science. “Talking about it is the healing process.”
Lt. Col. Kelly, who spent 13 months in Iraq, trained 4,400 Iraqi soldiers, was an operations officer in an air assault battalion, piloting a Blackhawk helicopter, says the Patriotic Tribute gives him a chance to bond with fellow soldiers from previous generations with whom he shares many similarities.
Donna, a two-tour Iraq veteran and Bronze Star recipient, has had the opportunity to share some of his memories at the Alabama Veterans’ Memorial Foundation’s Patriotic Tribute. This year the event will take place Sunday, Nov. 8 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Alabama Veterans’ Memorial Park located off I-459 at the Liberty Parkway Exit.
“I was invited to do a living timeline of all the different eras of combat we’ve been in,” Donna says. “It’s a big table of show-and-tell, and people walk the timeline and talk to the soldiers and former soldiers and tell stories. It’s like sitting on grandpa’s lap at each station, but I was the youngest grandpa.”
Donna spent 13 months in Iraq. He trained 4,400 Iraqi soldiers in his first deployment. He was an operations officer in an air assault battalion in his second tour, piloting a Blackhawk helicopter.
Donna says the Patriotic Tribute gives him a chance to bond with fellow soldiers from previous generations with whom he shares many similarities.
“The soldiers never change through the years, just the platform on which they go to war changes,” Donna says. “We all have the same stories, just from different eras.”
The Patriotic Tribute will feature educational and entertaining events at the beginning of each hour. Guests are encouraged to view the Regiment of Columns where stories, letters and artwork about Alabama veterans and Alabama’s 24 Medal of Honor recipients and families have been cast in metal. Guests can view the names of more than 11,000 Alabamians who lost their lives in foreign wars.
Admission to the event is free. Snacks, drinks and sandwiches will be available for purchase. Call Lulu Richardson at 912-2019 or e-mail her at email@example.com for more information.