By Craig Moorhead

The Caledonia Argus

On Sunday, November 10, Brownsville VFW (Leroy D. Holzwarth) Post 6801 and the Brownsville Lions Club will host a “Vets Fest” at the  Brownsville Community Center from 6:00 – 10:00 p.m.

“This is all part of the fund-raising for the Brownsville Veterans Memorial,” organizer Ed Gittens said.

“From our first fund raising event until now, we are well over halfway to meeting our budget needs... We hope we’re on the home stretch, and with this event, we hope to get over the top.

“One thing about this that is really unique is that everything is donated,” Vietnam-era combat veteran Gittens added. “The Community Center is letting us use the facility free, for our local cause. 

“It’s a musical salute to our veterans.”

Admission is free, and there will be door prizes, an art show, bake sale, raffles, and more.

Performers include Gregg “Cheech” Hall, Jimbo Zill, Shawn Virock, Laun Braithwaite, Craig Olson,  Jacquet Bruno, and a special “surprise guest musician.”

“These musicians volunteered their time,” Gittens noted. “And they do that around this extended community in a way that is just exemplary. If we had more people like that, boy oh boy, what a world this would be! 

“Cheech organized several concerts in La Crosse, and they were family events... The focus was on enjoying the music. I told him the other day that ‘I don’t use the word hero freely, but you are one of my heroes...’ 

“Jimbo is the same way. If you’ve got something going on, and you don’t have money but you need to accomplish something, these are the kind of guys that will jump in and not bat an eye. This event features some of the best musicians in this area; very popular and in demand... I’m just really grateful.”

A lot of time and effort has already gone into the veterans memorial project, with volunteers doing research on other veterans memorials around the area, getting cost estimates, and working to develop a plan. 

Other local veterans organizations have been very supportive. “The Houston American Legion donated $500 to our VFW for this project,” Gittens stated. 

During his deployment overseas, Gittens was an M60 gunner. A talented artist, he is bringing a wealth of material to Vets Fest, including sketches made “in country” that provide a first-hand glimpse into the conflict.   

“I feel the community is really behind us...” he said. “ I think the memorial is an achievable goal.”

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