Hundreds Attend Veterans Home Prayer Vigil


As the fight over the Grand Island Veterans Home continues, hundreds turn to prayer and peaceful demonstration.

"Today is not about politics," says Dan Naranjo, organizer of the veterans home prayer vigil that took place Sunday evening in GI.

Naranjo says even though many of those who gathered are against moving the veterans home to Kearney, they left policy out of their ceremonies.

"This is a prayerful support of keeping the Grand Island Veterans Home in Grand Island, and it's to lift it up to a higher power than us," he says.

With the battle over the veterans being fought in state and local government, attendee Kayleen Riley says a prayer vigil is overdue.

"Probably should have been the first thing on the list instead of waiting until now, but God hears our prayers and He knows what He wants to do," says Riley.

Around 250 people stood beneath flags at the Veterans Memorial Park, then "prayerfully marched" toward the veterans home itself.

"Prayer for our veterans, for the families, for the caregivers, prayer for all of Grand Island during this time of crisis," says Naranjo.

There were 127 balloons – one for each year of the home's existence – sent skyward in front of the home before the crowd walked on to the Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

One veteran at the vigil says the evening wasn't just for show.

"They have gone to all the trouble to set up all the flags to honor the veterans and that's what we're here for, is to honor the veterans and show our support for the home," says Gary Purvis, an advocate for an alternative plan to remodel the GI home that local officials have been working on.

"We have loved this veterans home for 127 years and we just lift it up to God and to the powers that be to keep this veterans home here in Grand Island," says Naranjo.

Many Grand Island officials were at the vigil as well, including some county officials, most of the Hall County Board of Supervisors, the mayo, and some city council members.