Veterans and their families were invited to share in a dinner and ceremony honoring members and volunteers on Patriots Day at the Wayne G. Austin American Legion Post No. 2 of Newton.


"We wanted to honor some longtime members of the American Legion and also those who have volunteered throughout the year so that they know we appreciate what they're doing in supporting the American Legion and our veterans," said Post Adjutant Paul Sanford.


Eighteen members of the Wayne G. Austin American Legion Post No. 2 have been part of the organization for 50 years or more.


"Just recognize that it's because of these guys that we have the freedom we have today," Sanford said.


Byron Brittain was honored with a certificate and pin for his 71 years as a member of the American Legion.


Other honorees included F.V. Daily, 59-year member, Larson Woelk, 58-year member, Ralph Weerts, 52-year member, Vernon Wonders, 51-year member, Dale Perkins, 50-year member and Wayne Porter, 50-year member.


"These certificates are special this year, because they're signed by Denise Rohan, who is our first female national commander in 99 years," Sanford noted.


A roast beef dinner was provided to attendees free of charge.


"What better day to honor veterans than on Patriots Day," Sanford said.


Volunteers with the American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary, Sons of the American Legion and American Legion Riders were also recognized for their work with various activities.


"There's too many times we don't say 'thank you,'" Sanford said.


Military veteran Harry Kasitz and his great-niece, Rebecca Burton, who serves in the U.S. Army Reserves, attended the dinner.


"There's only so many times someone can say 'I hung out with my 97-year-old uncle,'" Burton said with a smile.


Burton and Kasitz swapped stories of military service with Navy veteran Scott Galemore of Goessel.


Galemore became a member of the American Legion last year.


"They had a lot of stuff going on, so I thought I'd see what it was all about," Galemore said.


Sanford said he plans on making the dinner an annual event at the post.


“We will do this Sept. 11 every year regardless of what day of the week it falls on,” Sanford said. “Sept. 11 is a great day to say thank you to veterans. Patriots Day is a great day for what we are trying to do.”