Celebrating the departed

In June 2009, I returned from my first year-long overseas combat deployment and was asked to join American Legion Post 38 in Haddonfield, N.J. Having no expectations on what being a Legionnaire would entail, I followed the guidance of the welcoming post members and began to assimilate the proceedings happening around me. I was quickly petitioned to be a part of the many social endeavors our post regularly takes part in, including the Last Man’s Club.

American Legion posts nationwide organized these clubs to preserve the memories of veterans from all wars and to pay tribute to departed comrades. On April 7, Post 38 celebrated its 74th annual Last Man’s Club dinner with more than 200 attendees.

The evening featured special guests, patriotic music, a POW/MIA remembrance service and special recognition of the veterans who passed away within the past year. One of my favorite aspects of remembering our past comrades is in considering the men and women I will never meet, and yet feel no less kinship with them due to their commitment to service.

The dinner also makes me realize how I am just a small cog operating in a much larger machine that has and will continue well beyond whatever paltry contributions I make.

We are the only American Legion post in New Jersey to have a Last Man’s Club dinner, and it is our great privilege to do so. We enjoy the sense of commitment associated with such a distinctive ceremony.