The public is invited to the 10th annual tribute to Orange County veterans 6 p.m. Sunday, May 26 at the Heritage Veterans Memorial Plaza, 3810 M.L. King Drive in Orange. The event is free.

Held annually on the plaza on the campus of Orange First Church of the Nazarene, the program includes special speakers, patriotic music and more.

The event will feature greetings from Perry Jefferies, manager of the TexVet Initiative, a network designed to support Texas military, veterans and family members with information and referral services by facilitating the delivery of these services across traditional boundaries. TexVet also serves as the hub for the statewide peer to peer counseling network and volunteers. Through its network and event-based activities, TexVet has initiated a “No Wrong Door” policy for the veteran community, its partners have become more knowledgeable about the other services available to veterans, and veterans are properly connected to the services they need most.

Jefferies served as a First Sergeant with the Army’s 4th Infantry Division in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He hails from Waco, the son of a long line of Army Veterans and Shirley Jefferies, creator of the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival. After deploying to Iraq and traveling with the cavalry through the Sunni Triangle, his unit moved to the Iran-Iraq border and set up Camp Caldwell, future home of the new Iraqi Army.

Jefferies joined the Army after enlisting in the Texas National Guard and served in Korea, Germany, and the United States before deploying to Iraq.  He was awarded the Bronze Star for service in Iraq.  He has served in infantry, armor, and cavalry units as a cavalry scout, platoon sergeant, first sergeant, supply sergeant, and as an instructor at the Armor School at Fort Knox. He retired in 2004 and was awarded the Legion of Merit. He is a member of the Order of Saint George for service to Armor and Cavalry. A graduate of Pierce College in Washington, he worked with the Armed Services Blood Program at Fort Hood for seven years before joining the TexVet Initiative at the Texas A&M Health Science Center and is a founding member of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

The patriotic tribute will honor all veterans and those currently serving in the military.

The plaza features the life size sculpture “Tears from a Grateful Heart” by Colorado-based artist Scott Stearman and the names of scores of veterans from Orange County.

Inscribed on plaques incorporated into the plaza are the names of airmen, sailors, soldiers and marines as well as veterans of the U.S. Coast Guard and Merchant Marines.

Also featured in the plaza is the ship’s bell from the U.S.S. Dyson. Built in Orange, the U.S.S. Dyson went on to earn the Presidential Unit Citation and 11 battle stars for World War II service.

Orange County veterans’ names may be added in granite for $40. Messages may be added to bricks in the memorial for $100. Orders placed by May 13 will be added before the Memorial Day event. For more information, call (409) 882-1816.