During the annual One Nation Under God prayer luncheon this week, the Statesboro Exchange Club welcomed National Exchange Club President Dan McQueeney as the keynote speaker.
The event was held at RJ's Grill to honor local veterans, active-duty service members and area pastors and ministers.
"I am honored to represent Exchange at this very powerful and meaningful event," McQueeney said. "The One Nation Under God luncheon embodies the American values that every Exchange Club member holds close to their heart. As a retired United States Air Force navigator and staff planner, I, too, place a great significance on these values.
"We are a great nation under God. We have diversity and love for one another. We know how to treat our fellow neighbor and live together in harmony."
McQueeney, former commander of flight operations to Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm, said that spending time in a foreign country during wartime had a huge impact on him and taught him to value his freedom.
"It was an eye-opener," McQueeney said. "We were there to defend Saudi Arabia against Iraq, but we couldn't openly practice our religion. We had secret meetings. The board might say, ‘J Morale Meeting,' and we knew that meant a Jewish service, or ‘P Morale Meeting,' and that was a Protestant service."
The annual prayer luncheon is held in honor of One Nation Under God Month and aims to increase appreciation of America's rich religious heritage and remind Americans to trust in a higher power for guidance, protection and strength. The program's title is taken from the Pledge of Allegiance.
"We were very proud to have the National Exchange Club president attend our luncheon today," said Bubba Hunt, Statesboro Exchange Club president. "It's a great honor and shows the strength of and value we place on the One Nation Under God event."
McQueeney currently resides in South Carolina. Graduating from the Citadel in 1971, McQueeney served in Thailand in 1974, refueling bombers and fighters. In 1986, McQueeney received a master's in accounting from Armstrong University in Berkeley. It was during his time at Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, as a member of the 19th Air Refueling Wing, that McQueeney first began flying with Gen. Schwarzkopf in October 1989.
The National Exchange Club president pointed out that this year's slogan is "Exchange Strong" and that clubs and club members serve their communities selflessly, making time to help others. Part of that serving attitude includes recognizing veterans, active-duty service members and area ministerial staff at the annual luncheon.
"We wanted to honor those that serve locally," Hunt added. "We want them to know how much we appreciate them."
The Exchange Club is America's oldest service club with more than 650 clubs and nearly 20,000 members throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. The organization's mission, "Inspiring communities to become better places to live," is carried out through its programs: Americanism, Youth Programs and Community Service, as well as the National Project, the prevention of child abuse.