BUFORD - Members of two American Legion posts, Eugene Brown Post 521 and Post 534, gathered with their families Saturday for fellowship and barbecue at their Merger BBQ Picnic at the American Legion Post 127 pavilion.
The picnic was designed to bring together members of the two posts as they work on merging into one American Legion. On the menu were ribs, chicken, baked beans, cole slaw and salad free to post members and their families.
Included were family activities such as horseshoes, dominoes and a card tournament.
In addition, veterans were able to learn about and sign up for the different programs offered by the American Legion. Veterans could sign up to receive a DD214 discharge document via a request on the Internet. Korean veterans could sign up for the Korean Commemorative Medal and Vietnam vets could sign up for the "Vietnam Wall of Honor" at the Atlanta VA Medical Center.
Johnny Varner Jr., commander of Post 521, put the picnic together.
"We are basically meeting each other and having some fellowship," Varner said.
The picnic drew a large turnout of families.
"It’s quite well," Varner said of the crowd. "We’re expecting maybe 100 to 200 people."
Post 521 in Gainesville and Post 534 in Buford are planning to merge into one post under a new number. After consolidating their assets and liabilities, the posts will find a new location for the new organization.
"We’ll have a joint building," Varner said. "We’re looking at the South Hall area."
John Dorsey, commander of Post 534, said that the Legion members were coming together to help each other
survive by making one strong post with a new home.
Thom Mash, state American Legion Department Treasurer, said "The department is excited about the merging of these two posts together."
Other representatives from the state Legion were at the picnic, along with Commander of the District Carl Yancey and Junior Vice Commander of the District Bob Palmerson.
The post has been sending care packages to troops deployed in war zone overseas, with coffee bags provided by Starbucks. Two post members are currently deployed, Staff Sgt. Juan Westbrooks and Sgt. Chadwick Turner.
Also being offered by the posts is a college scholarship open to all graduating high seniors. The deadline to apply is July 1. To apply, e-mail Varner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It was clear that there was an atmosphere of fun and excitement at the picnic.
Varner said that he enjoyed seeing "just the people talking" at the picnic. He said it was important that the executive members of both posts "fellowship and start moving forward about the American Legion vision."