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VFW marks upcoming holiday with celebration for veterans
Gainesville post seeks new members
1109event RW
Tom Taylor, right, and Tim Hopton prepare to raise a new flag Saturday at VFW Post 8452. The flag replaced the one that had been flying over the post's home at 1955 Delta Drive since it opened a year ago. The flag replacement was part of a Veterans Day celebration at the post. - photo by Tom Reed

Coming Tuesday: A special salute to our local World War II veterans

Stories from three wars

Veterans and their families from the Gainesville area gathered Saturday for a Veterans Day celebration held at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Gainesville.

"This event is a celebration of Veterans Day for the local veterans," said Shirley Smith, the VFW's Community Liaison Coordinator.

Featured at the event were food, live music and a raffle. The raffle prizes were gift cards donated by some of the VFW's local sponsors such as Publix, Target and QuickTrip, plus gift cards to restaurants such as LongHorn Steakhouse and Red Lobster. The money raised from the raffle went to benefit the VFW's general fund.

The nation marks Veterans Day on Tuesday.

The VFW post is looking for more veterans to join its membership.

"It's our celebration of our one-year anniversary of being in this building," said Tim Hopton, the post's quartermaster. "We are actively seeking veterans to join. We offer benefits to veterans."

"To be a veteran at this post, you've had to serve in a foreign war."

The post is also supporting the local National Guard unit.

"We are going to sponsor the National Guard in Gainesville," Smith said. "We are going to support them, and we are also going to take care of their families."

"In the future, we're hoping to sponsor a Boy Scout pack."

The post also holds events that are open to the public. On weekends, entertainment is offered, and members are looking to open a kitchen.

Hopton also announced that the VFW post is going to be a dropoff location for this year's Toys for Tots holiday drive. The post is located at 1955 Delta Drive.

Hopton and Smith both are veterans and said that Veteran's Day is very important to them.

"We've made the ultimate sacrifice for our country," Hopton said. "It's a small way to say ‘thank you.'"
Hopton served one year in Afghanistan with the Marines. Smith spent 30 years in the Air Force and served in Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

"The goal is that hopefully the nation would stop a moment that day and think about the military," Hopton said.

Any veteran interested in joining the VFW can contact Hopton at 678-943-2807.

Smith and Hopton both agreed that community outreach was the best part about Saturday's celebration.

"The best part is getting out to the community and showing what we're about," Hopton said.
"We want to get out to the community and have them be a part of us," Smith said.

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