Zion Hope Hosts Retired Army Col. Sandra V. Richardson as Veterans Day Speaker

First Lady Vonda Yates (l) and Pastor Bernard Yates (r) pose with Col. Sandra Richardson

Col. Sandra Richardson (Retired Army) was the guest speaker during the Zion Hope Primitive Baptist Church Veterans Day Observance held on Sunday November 9th during the 10:45 service. Under Yates leadership Zion Hope’s Military Ministry served as the event’s organizer chaired by Mrs. Arnetha Welcome. Christal Montgomery, the Military Ministry’s Assistant Leader provided support in organizing the observance by recommending her friend and Beatrice, Alabama native, Ms. Sandra Richardson to serve as the guest speaker. The committee also developed an impressive exhibit of military uniforms representing all branches, past pictures of Zion Hope members on active duty in uniform, their various medals, and awards.

The program began with Arnetha Welcome and her brother Michael Jackson, a locally known gospel recording artist, performing a duet of the National Anthem. Tony McCray, a member of the Military Ministry, brought the welcome message which served as a way to recognize the local and out-of-town support for Ms. Richardson’s speaking engagement. He welcomed her graduating class of 1974 Beatrice, Alabama class of J F Shields High School, her sorority of Delta Sigma Theta, her fellow Tuskegee Institute Alumni, and her mother, sister, and family friends from Beatrice and Montgomery.

Next on the agenda was Arnetha Welcome’s introduction of the speaker which included some great little nuggets of personal info. Ms. Richardson ascended to the podium and embraced a theme of: “I Serve, I Dance, I Shine”. She stated that the theme came from a description of her life that is one of service.

From her perspective, she serves the community through dancing and letting her light shine. She commented, “Dancing to me means, making a difference in the world, and not just any difference but a difference that matters”. She added, “When we determine what our purpose is we need to work really hard to achieve it and let our light shine while we seek it”. She felt it very important to share with the congregation, “to always be on guard to let your light shine and not to allow anyone else to put your light out”.

She emphasized this perspective through a story where a little girl wanted to know what the song “This Little Light of Mine” meant. Her mother explained that it means you are nice and kind and you treat everybody well. The next Sunday the daughter went to Sunday School and the teacher called her mother and said the she had gotten into a fight. The shocked mother asked her daughter, “What happened on letting you life shine”? The child replied, “Mother, I got so mad that I blew my own light out”! Richardson stated that lesson to be learned from the story is that not only should we be on guard to not let anyone else blow our light out, but we should be on guard not to blow it out ourselves.

Following the presentation, veterans of Zion Hope and visiting veterans were recognized for their military service with a letter of commendation and a lapel pin of their branch of service. As each branch was announced by Nathaniel “Nate” Bates the CEO of the Gulf Coast Veterans Advocacy Council there were shouts of pride heard from the veterans as they walked up to receive their recognition.

Ms. Richardson was appointed as Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Resource Issues on July 20, 2009. Prior to returning to DoD, she served as finance officer in the U.S. Army where she retired on December 31, 2006 with over twenty-eight years of service. Her last assignment was Senior Military Executive Assistant to the Director, Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). She was the principal adviser to the agency’s Director, who provided worldwide finance and accounting services to DoD. 

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