Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10427, which has been serving Cedar Park and Leander for over 40 years, held a free cookout Monday to honor America's fallen warriors. The public was invited to the event at the VFW Post on 8760 Ranch Rd. in Leander, the conclusion to a weekend of Memorial Day activities.
"One of our mandates is to serve the public," said Post Commander Dave Walden. "And everything we do is open to the public. Community service is important to us." Walden said the post, which has almost 300 members, serves the Cedar Park and Leander all year but there is a special emphasis on occasions like Memorial Day.
At the cookout and throughout the Memorial Day weekend, VFW leaders Terry Craig and Steve Hixon distributed bright red poppies dedicated to the memory of the men and women who have served, fought and died for their country.
"We want to educate the public about those who have served this nation," said Craig. "That's why we sponsor VFW awards at the high schools in the area and support lots of the area Boy Scout troops."
Saturday, members from Post 10427 joined more than 4,000 veterans at the Annual Military Appreciation BBQ at Jay Pearce's Reunion Ranch in Williamson County. The event was sponsored by Heroes Night Out, which was founded by Wes and Judy Pierce in 2001 to honor servicemen and women.
Along with Post 10427, there were 48 other organizations honoring veterans and their families by participating in military appreciation day leading up to Memorial Day.
Saturday's Reunion Ranch events included a classic auto show, patriotic music and lots of food.
"We try to say 'thank you' to veterans by gathering them together so they can get information about help that is available for them," said Wes Pierce. "And frankly, just getting them together helps them help each other."
Wes Pierce said he and his wife, Judy, have three sons who served in combat in Iraq. "Our kids came back whole," he said. "We were lucky, really lucky. And, we want to honor others who served. Planning for next year's military appreciation day starts tomorrow."