Nam Jam attracts local veterans to Shell Factory
When Hurricane Irma resulted in the cancellation of the Nam Jam at the Shell Factory last month, it wasn’t known what kind of participation there would be when they rescheduled it.
On Sunday, everyone found out. More than 1,000 military veterans, many of which were from the Vietnam era, gathered for an afternoon of fun, food and remembrance at an inaugural event that will most likely become on annual one.
Tom and Pam Cronin, owners of the Shell Factory, were surprised with the response.
“This is our first time at this and I’m tickled to death by how many came. It turned out pretty good,” Tom said. “I’m an old Army vet, and people are starting to get more patriotic and that’s a good thing.”
“God loves us and wants us to be happy. He wanted the veterans to be honored and out of bad things came a wonderful thing and I think it was more successful and more in tune with honoring those who serve, including first responders,” said Pam.
It also served a big plus for Invest in America’s Veterans Foundation, which runs the Southwest Florida Military Museum & Library in Cape Coral and has a small exhibit at the Shell Factory.
Jim Zbick, historian and curator at the museum, and Sonia Raymond, museum director, brought a rebuilt 1943 Willy’s Jeep to the event. He said their partnership with the Shell Factory has been a strong one.
“We hope we get more people to come to the museum because we’re the best kept secret in Cape Coral. Few people know we’re there and we keep trying to being them in,” Raymond said.
And while the event was geared toward Vietnam vets, there were others as well, including six from World War II, who took their place on the stage and stole the show.
The vets happily stood aside and waited in a long line as event-goers shook hands with the 90-somethings and thanked them for their service.
While the veterans got a chance to eat for free and visit the nature park, the main event was the ceremony for veterans, featuring the Lee County Sheriff’s Office Color Guard, the Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem, a reading of the meaning of the Battlefield Cross and missing man table from Zbick, and words from the World War II vets hosted by fellow veteran Richard Dunmire.
Ronald Price, senior vice commander of Disabled American Veterans, Chapter 108 in Cape Coral, said Americans have learned a valuable lesson.
“The important lesson learned by American society was to separate the warrior from the war. The men and women serving today are only doing their job,” he said.