CENTERVILLE — The small town of Centerville, population 900, held its annual veterans’ appreciation day celebration April 27.

Centerville adopted the 41st Fires “Rail Gunners” Brigade through the Association of the United States Army adopt-a-unit program. Located in Leon County, the town is no stranger to giving back to the military.

The celebration started off like many military ceremonies with the posting of America’s colors, provided by the Palestine chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America.

Col. William McRae, brigade commander, was the first guest speaker to address the audience. Before McRae could start his speech, he was surprised by three Rail Gunners who marched up and presented him with a saxophone. McRae then played “America the Beautiful” to the crowd’s delight.

“I didn’t know the colonel could play the saxophone,” said Sgt. Jonathan Garcia, a transportation operator with the brigade’s 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment.

Also addressing the crowd of about 200 people was Congressman Kevin Brandy, who represents Texas’ 8th Congressional District. Brandy talked about the expanded health clinic for the local veterans and the plans for expanding the health care system even more in his district.

Once the keynote speaker had finished, the soldiers and veterans were treated to a barbecue lunch donated by county businesses.

There were also door prizes given away to a few lucky individuals.

Along with the festivities, several organizations were on hand to provide information to veterans about the benefits they earned through their military service.

“Everybody needs to remember their veterans ... we really need to pay our respects to our veterans,” said former Marine and Vietnam veteran Steve Severn.

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