CLUTE — Flashing lights and large military vehicles lined the street in front of the Clute Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8576 as a busy club prepped food and welcomed guests in honor of Veterans Day.
While honoring veterans is something done regularly throughout the nation, Veterans Day celebrations are something that give the community a chance to say thank you in an open, light atmosphere, Clute Veterans of Foreign Wars manager Jennifer Roy said.
The VFW’s public event, which is in its third year, gives residents just that opportunity, Roy said.
“It’s just a huge thank you to anyone who’s served,” Roy said. “And this year, we’re also including first responders. A lot of people want to thank veterans, but they don’t know how. So this is a good time to come in here to hear stories, share friendships, etc.”
With several fire, police and EMS departments taking part in the event, the scene looked like a party, complete with bounce houses and a Coast Guard boat the public could tour.
More than 400 community members were expected throughout the day, Roy said. The day included the Brazosport band, gymnastics performances, a martial arts demonstration and live music.
“Basically, what we’re trying to do is we just wanted to show our appreciation for veterans and military members prior to us,” MK-2 Coast Guardsman Jim Summers said. “We’re out here giving some tours and showing kids and families what new equipment the Coast Guard has and just showing our appreciation for the veterans of foreign wars.”
Not only is the day about food, camaraderie and honoring those who served overseas in the military, but it should help people remember veterans’ sacrifices are sometimes permanent and people should not forget about them, Post Commander Ray Lilley said.
Lilley spent six years as a specialist serving in South Korea on the DMZ line and has been the post commander at the Clute VFW for two years. He said the organization is all about giving back to veterans, whether that’s through fellowship or monetary assistance.
“We want to give back to the veterans that we have, and you know, we have a lot of disabled veterans too,” Lilley said. “I know over the last 10 years, the suicide rate is up — and it’s not just the young veterans, but older ones too. Our community is coming together, as you can see, to give back to our veterans.”