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Celebrating sacrifice and service

Celebrating sacrifice and service
Curtis Bell drives Jim White to lead the procession in July 2013, as the family's annual Fourth of July and Veterans Appreciation Day closes. White passed away earlier this year, but his family will be joined by Don Rackler's family and others to host this year's event, Saturday, July 4, on the Rackler Ranch near La Vernia.

What started as a family barbecue and anniversary celebration has become so much more, and has grown beyond the confines of the home place where it’s been hosted for the past seven years.

The families of retired Texas Rangers chief Hank Whitman and the late Jim White, a retired U.S. Marine, have hosted an annual Fourth of July and Veterans Appreciation Day on the Saturday near July 4 to honor veterans and wounded warriors at their property on F.M. 775 between Floresville and La Vernia. Each year, the event starring barbecue, family fun, and patriotic pride has grown. Though very much a semi-private event with limited invitations, it’s so large now, that the event has moved down the road, where Don and Pam Rackler of Jon Wayne Heating and Air Conditioning and their family have opened their hearts and ranch, welcoming the Whites and Whitmans, and a host of veterans, wounded warriors, military members, and their families.

This year’s festivities will take place Saturday, July 4, starting at 5 p.m.

Patriotic pride and military appreciation come naturally for the Racklers.

“We’ve hosted a Memorial Day event in the past for military and enjoyed it,” said Jake McBee, coordinating the event. “We’ve discussed the combining of events for years [with the Whitman and White] families. It’s simply an honor. What they’ve done for us and our country can never be repaid, but more importantly should never be forgotten.”

The Racklers simply look forward helping those who’ve done so much for our country, McBee said.

“There’s no personal agenda or reason,” he added. It’s simply “ é a selfless group working to honor those that give us that opportunity.”

Moving to the Racklers’ ranch will allow for more guests; this year, participants will enjoy entertainment by a live band. Kids and adults can enjoy activities, and a fireworks show scheduled for dark.

Those attending can expect good food and fun for all, McBee said.

One feature of the event is the same ...a barbecue cook-off. Each team cooks not only to compete for the titles and custom belt buckles, but to provide food for the honored veterans and military guests estimated crowd of 350-plus is anticipated. Prizes are awarded for chef’s choice, brisket, chicken, and ribs. McBee estimates 11 teams are signed up to compete.

“In the years past, it’s always been so great to see the joy in these people’s faces,” he said. Regardless of age, condition, physical restraints, etc., all attendees are happy, humble, and a pleasure to be around. é It’s really just an honor to host an event like this.”

It remains a semi-private event, McBee said. There are plans to continue growing it through the years, possibly making it a big public event in the future.

What can the community do now?

“For now, please put your flags out, take a second to stop and thank our service folks young and old ...when you see them.

“Remember, we live in a great country because it was founded on the principles of God, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness,” McBee added. “We have what we have because we fought for it and we’ll fight to keep it.”

Fourth of July

veterans event

The White, Whitman, and Rackler families will be joined by friends and an army of volunteers this Saturday, July 4, to host an annual semi-private event to honor veterans and those who have served in our nation’s armed forces.

Active-duty and retired military members and their families, and those associated with and supporting our nation’s military can call to enjoy this family-friendly event, which has limited capacity.

To RSVP, contact Jake McBee at 210-723-7772 (call or text), or

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