After 20 years of dormancy, Flanders Field Post BE02 in Belgium has been revitalized and is now up to 37 new members. During the last nine months we have been actively recruiting new members to The American Legion. We also have more than 40 potential new members who have indicated a desire to join our ranks. We hope they will take the final step to join. During the last three months, we have been busy expanding and have now established a chapter of the American Legion Riders and are planning for 2014 to establish a chapter of the American Legion Auxiliary. The president of the Riders, Comrade Paul Dunn, has been extremely influential in establishing the chapter. We look forward to seeing the Riders at the many ceremonies scheduled for the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Belgium.
On Nov. 10-11, members of Post BE02 participated in several ceremonies honoring the veterans of World War I. The American Legion Riders participated in a small ceremony at the Flanders Field American Cemetery honoring the American veterans who fought in Belgium in 1918. Other members of Post BE02 partook in a night’s ceremony on Nov. 10 in the city of Passchendaele, and then the next morning in the Poppy Parade and wreath-laying ceremony in the city of Ieper (Ypres). Our World War II veteran, Comrade Maurice Sperandieu, has been influential in representing the Legion at many of the ceremonies held in Belgium. During the Veterans/Armistice Day ceremonies, the Flanders Field Post BE02 flag was flown for the first time in 20 years.
We have been fortunate to have a Belgian citizen to head our Graves Registration, Memorial and Ceremony Committee. Frank De Rudder volunteered to coordinate the myriad ceremonies the post and Riders will participate in next year. Another of our standing committees, the Child & Youth Committee, will be headed by Comrade Charles Lyons. We are looking forward to the many activities and programs that will be sponsored by the committee.
During the past months the post’s members have been active in many other activities. On Halloween evening, the Riders joined other organizations and groups in the ‘trunk or treat’ event on the USAG Brussels compound. For our first big endeavor, Post BE02 plans to conduct an Oratorical contest in January 2014 for students from the four American high schools in the Benelux area. While it is a large undertaking, our vice commander – Comrade John DuBose – has taken the initiative to head the project. Our chaplain, Comrade Gavin Wainwright, has volunteered to head our JROTC program. The members of Post BE02 will honor distinguished cadets at the JROTC programs at SHAPE and AFNORTH.
As we continue to grow in membership, Post BE02 will be able to participate in many more programs to assist area veterans and servicemembers, their families and the U.S. military community.