Wilkinson to celebrate Weir Cook Memorial Day

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WILKINSON — Jeeps, Humvees, military history and rock and roll are coming to Wilkinson on Saturday for Weir Cook Memorial Day, said Christy Broady, president of the Weir Cook Memorial Project incorporated.

Wilkinson’s citizens are all set to celebrate the special holiday, which the town celebrates each year to commemorate the small town’s favorite flying ace, Broady said. Weir Cook Memorial Day coincides with the annual town garage sale at Weir Cook Community Park; there will be food, vendors, an auto show, live music and even a traveling museum exhibit, she said.

Wilkinson native Weir Cook was a famous fighter pilot and aviation pioneer who served in the Army Air Service and later the Army Air Corps during World War I and World War II. He is the namesake of the Col. Harvey Weir Cook Terminal at the Indianapolis International Airport.

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Cook was killed in action in the South Pacific in 1943.

This year’s celebration, honoring the service of Cook as well as all military veterans past and present, lands on the 100th anniversary of World War I, Broady said.

The event will kick off at 10 a.m. with an invocation, the singing of the national anthem and a presentation by the local Honor Guard, Broady said. Then, several local classic rock cover bands will perform throughout the day until about 4 p.m.

The Wilkinson Police Department will be fundraising, selling food to the festival’s visitors, Broady said. Several other vendors from out of town are slated to set up stands selling various products, to include military history memorabilia.

There are trophies for the auto show being awarded by a panel of judges composed of local citizens, the police department and the Wilkinson Town Council, Broady said. She expects a great showing of specialty jeeps, Humvees and military vehicles.

“It’s a cruise fest, and we’ve got prizes,” Broady said.

Jerry Lindquist, an Indiana traveling museum owner, will be attending to set up his personal station called the Master Modeler Display. Lindquist will showcase recreated models and memorabilia ranging from World War I to Afghanistan.

“He’s a walking museum, and you usually don’t find those,” Broady said. “He’s just full of history.”

Weir Cook Memorial Day is a chance for one of Hancock County’s smallest communities to pay due respect to a truly influential figure in the military and aviation communities, Broady said.

“We do this so he’s not forgotten,” she said. “That’s the big thing. From the time I started (this organization), it’s been about keeping these guys’ memories alive.”

Kurt Vetters, a board member for the Weir Cook Memorial Project, said the yearly celebration has a solid downstream effect throughout Indiana small towns. Having pride in a hometown hero helps solidify community identity, he said.

“It’s like a town pride day,” Vetters said. “For a town like Wilkinson to have a favorite son like Col. Weir Cook, to honor him like they do is just a pretty cool tribute.”