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If you’re a veteran, you’ll want this pin

Gaston Gazette - 2/18/2020

The annual event known as the Gaston All American Fair has been making veterans a focal point of the celebration for several years now.

But for the 2020 installment of the festival, organizers will step things up by designing a special keepsake and presenting it to every Gaston County veteran who expresses an interest in the honor.

The inaugural, commemorative pins will be distributed in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Defense, through a program offered by the agency. Each pin will boast a special design and recognize the holder as a veteran, while also denoting that it was given out during the 2020 All American Fair. The pins will also be presented to family members of deceased veterans.

"This is just another way to show how special our military service members are and that Gaston County does care about them," said Todd Pierceall, a former Gastonia city councilman and a chief organizer of the Gaston All American Fair. The celebration takes place each June in the parking lot of Eastridge Mall in Gastonia.

When the initiative was first announced on social media this week, organizers emphasized there will be a limited availability of the pins, which must be ordered. Veterans or their families must reserve one by logging on to and providing some basic information, such as the name, branch and period of service of the veteran, the county of residence, and a name and phone number of the person to be contacted.

"We just need to get some kind of idea of how many pins to order, because they are expensive," said Pierceall. "We had originally planned to order 100 pins, thinking maybe we'd get 50 vets to show up. And over course of the next few weeks or months, if people found out about it afterward, we would then have some left over to make sure other veterans get them."

But after just a couple of days, 20 pin reservations have already come in, Pierceall said.

"So now we're reassessing and thinking we may have to order up to 200 pins," he said.

The All American Fair has previously held a ceremony to specifically honor veterans who served during the Vietnam War, with one pin for living veterans, and a different version for deceased veterans. The fair has become an official partner of the Department of Defense in carrying out the venture.

"There are probably 30 to 40 Vietnam veterans we've pinned," said Pierceall. "So we were thinking it would be nice to recognize all veterans, from any branch of the military, just for their service as Gaston County residents."

The All American Fair will run from June 19 to 28, and the pins to be given out this year will be about 2 inches wide and designed to go on a shirt or coat lapel.

A Gaston County commissioner or another state-level elected official will likely take part in the pinning ceremony on Military Appreciation Day, when a number of other veterans deals and promotions will be offered during the festival, Pierceall said.

"This year will be special," he said.

You can reach Michael Barrett at or on Twitter@GazetteMike.


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