Happy 4th of July

As you know this weekend is a holiday weekend.  Many people are leaving for their vacation spots, or staying local and just having family cookouts.  Please be careful with those fireworks since a lot of injuries to our children occur during such fun events. But for me, I take part in a different tradition.

Gathering at Lake Gaston, Virginia to honor military

Dr. Bruce Heilman
Photo of E. Bruce Heilman, courtesy of

For me, the July 4th holiday includes a huge tradition, to be a part of the American Veterans Tribute Organization’s (AVT) annual event which occurs on Gaston Lake, on the Virginia/North Carolina Border.

The fourth is a day where thousands of people gather on the shorelines and on their boats at a large cove at Gaston Lake.  We have one of the largest amateur fireworks shows on the East Coast, and there are lots of celebrations, tributes, a military fly-by, music by the AVT Band, and a great day of patriotism and fun.

American hero Bruce Heilman

The most meaningful part of the event is the tribute to an American Hero who is a veteran and faithfully served our country.

This year we are honoring a very prominent and influential veteran, Bruce Heilman. A renowned and respected educator, he has served as a consultant to many educational, religious, and charitable organizations. He has also been a member and officer of numerous professional and educational boards and organizations. He is currently the Chancellor of the University of Richmond.  He is also active in riding his motorcycle across the country each year.

As a former Marine, he is a representative of an individual who has contributed to our freedom, to our educational and philanthropic communities, and to his own family.  We are so proud to have Dr. Heilman as our honoree this year.

Taking part in the event

Aside from being a board member of the AVT Organization, my part of the event is to be a part of the AVT band.

Joe Hesh has been a part of the AVT band leadership since its inception. In the past few years, he has struggled with cancer and this will be the first year he will not be with us.  We will deeply miss his energy and musical talent, and just want to acknowledge his contributions to our event.  We send to him and his family our best wishes and prayers.

So I wish all of you a very Happy 4th of July.  We will be celebrating our freedom by honoring those who have been so faithful in their service to our country. I hope it is a weekend of enjoyment in celebration and relationship together for you and your family .

Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *