The public is invited to the 14th annual tribute to Orange County veterans 6:30 p.m. Sunday, May 28 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 District Court Judge Dennis Powell.

Judge Powell was born in Hope, Arkansas; he moved to Orange Texas in 1967 and began Jr. High School here in Orange at M. B. North Jr. High. An honor graduate of Stark High School in 1973, he attended Texas A&M University for two years, and, in 1977, graduated from Summa Cum Laude from Lamar University, with a B.S. degree in secondary education.

After teaching math and speech at Orangefield Jr. High School, he entered law school at the University of Houston. While there, Judge Powell served as an editor of the University of Houston Law Review. He was a member of the Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Fraternity and the Advocates for Oral Advocacy. He was honored to receive the American Jurisprudence Award for Excellent Achievement in the Study of Evidence. In 1981, he graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Houston College of Law with a Juris Doctorate Degree.

Judge Powell returned to Orange and opened an office of law. He worked as a trial lawyer for 18 years. Licensed to practice before all State Courts of Texas and the Federal District Courts of Texas, he litigated cases across the State. He successfully handled appeals before the 9th Court of Appeals, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the Texas Supreme Court.

Out of a crowded field of 6 candidates, he was elected to the bench of the 163rd District Court of Orange County Texas. Judge Powell is now beginning his 5th term, having served the citizens of Orange County for more than 16 years. As a District Court Judge, he resolves disputes in domestic cases, presides over civil cases, and manages a challenging docket of felony criminal cases.

While serving as 163rd District Judge, Judge Powell also served as the Administrative Judge of Orange County for 10 years. He is a member of the Orange County Bar Association, the Texas Bar Association, the American Bar Association, and the American Judge’s Association.

Judge Powell has always been passionate about education, and at 49 he returned to school, devoting nights and weekends to acquiring a Master of Science degree in theological studies from Southwestern Assemblies of God University. Subsequently he has accumulated 12 hours toward a Ph.D. in theology.

Judge Powell is married to his wife of 35 years, life-long resident of Orange Connie Powell. Connie and Judge Powell are members of Orange First Church of the Nazarene, and have three grown children and seven grandchildren.

The patriotic tribute will honor all veterans and those currently serving in the military. The program will also feature the Southeast Texas Color Guard, Patriot Riders Motorcycle Group, Vietnam Veterans Mobil Museum, Community Band of Southeast Texas and other patriotic music. Complimentary refreshments will be served after the program.

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.