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TEXARKANA, Texas — Veterans and the public are invited to a reception honoring the men and women of the armed forces, past and present.

The Texarkana Gazette's 20th annual Salute to Veterans takes place 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Friday at Williams Memorial United Methodist Church, 4000 Moores Lane. Those who will attend are asked to RSVP at 870-330-7550, though pre-registration is not required.

"This has become a tradition like we never imagined when we started this event 20 years ago. It is open to everyone. Veterans most certainly. But also their family members and all those who want to honor the many veterans that come out for this tribute," said Gazette Editor Les Minor, who will emcee the event.

In some ways the Salute to Veterans has developed a following, Minor said. "So many familiar faces always come out. In many ways it's like an annual reunion."

Food and door prizes will be available. Live musical selections include "The Star-Spangled Banner" and taps, and the Texas A&M University-Texarkana ROTC will provide a color guard. A representative of Texarkana Funeral Home will be on hand to provide information about funeral services for veterans.

"The Gazette is honored to sponsor the Salute to Veterans. Each year I am still amazed at the excitement these men and women show when they are honored for their great sacrifice. It's humbling to watch the program and remember what these veterans did for our country, and it is our honor to give a small token of our appreciation," said Gazette staffer Amanda Otwell, who has organized the event for the last four years.

The Gazette will also publish a special section honoring veterans on Friday. It will feature profiles of local and area veterans of various ages and service branches.

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