“A Salute to All Veterans,” the 11th annual Veteran’s Appreciation Barbecue, will be hosted Saturday in downtown Sedalia and will include two speakers, U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler and Maj. John Schwent, USMC; the community is invited to attend.
“We’re having Vicky Hartzler, and we’re delighted to have her,” Jim Gaertner, president of the Central Missouri Veterans Association, said. “She’s a friend to veterans, I believe she was elected in 2010, and since that time she has come to our cookouts two or three times; not as the guest speaker, but she just comes as support for the vets. Folks will have an opportunity to visit with her.”
Schwent, with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and coordinator of the Camp Valor project in Kingsville, will also speak.
“We are really looking forward to hearing from him,” Gaertner added. “I understand he spent a couple deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the founder of Camp Valor, which is a really neat organization. It’s just west of Warrensburg … Camp Valor provides outdoor opportunities, hunting, fishing, camping, canoeing, archery and any kind of outdoor activities for combat-wounded and PTSD veterans from all wars.”
He said the veteran community especially looks forward to the barbecue event each year.
“We want to recognize them and say thanks,” he said. “We always have good speakers and the music is great from our perspective. Especially from the Vietnam era. We grew up in the ’50s and ’60s and came back from Vietnam in the ’70s. The Lee Stove Band is real popular with everybody. They do some gospel and they do a lot of oldies.”
The Lee Stover Band, of Smithton, will perform this year during the event.
There are several small changes this year for the barbecue: it will take place on the city parking lot on Second Street, just south of VFW Post No. 2591 on Ohio Avenue, instead of the Pettis County Courthouse lawn, and all veterans will eat for free.
“We haven’t done that before,” Gaertner said.
Volunteers will be grilling hamburgers and bratwurst and will serve them with chips, desserts and soft drinks. The time for the event is also different this year — it will run from 3 to 6 p.m.
“We’ve adjusted the time, it’s always been from 4 to 7 p.m.,” he said. “We hope that folks will come out and either have a late lunch or supper with us. One of the things too, a lot of people think it a veteran’s appreciation cookout that it’s just for veterans only, and it’s not. It’s for the whole community. It’s an opportunity to share a good meal and say thanks or just by your presence show your appreciation for all of our veterans.”
Gaertner said the Sedalia area still has a few World War II veterans.
“Their numbers are dwindling, but those guys are a national treasure,” he noted. “Sadly, a few years back, we lost the last World War I veterans, and the day will be coming where we will lose our World War II veterans.
“Those guys are special, the WWII vets and the Korean vets, especially to those of us who served in Vietnam,” he added. “They were our role models, we looked up to them and wanted to meet the standard they sat before us.”
Gaertner said he knew Saturday would be a busy day for many in the community, especially with children’s soccer games and other family activities. But, he added that everyone needs to eat and if they could just drop by for awhile that would be great.
“We just encourage people to come by,” he added. “Speaking of kids, I see that as a tremendous opportunity for people to bring their kids and grandkids and for them to learn about the sacrifices that our military has made through the ages, so we can enjoy all these wonderful activities. The price of freedom is high.”
The 11th annual Veteran’s Appreciation Barbecue will be hosted from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday at the city parking lot located at Second Street and Ohio Avenue. Hartzler and Schwent will speak at 3:30 p.m. The barbecue is free for veterans and will cost $5 for adults and $3 for children 10 and under. All are welcome to attend; bring lawn chairs.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 826-1000 ext. 1481 or @flbemiss.