Glad to see that the unemployment rate for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has fallen to 7.6 percent, below the overall national unemployment rate that now stands at 8.3 percent. Hope this progress continues.
Civil War veteran Eri D. Woodbury's Medal of Honor | Image from Cheshire Historical Society
Since the Medal of Honor was created during the Civil War, less than 4,000 veterans have received the nation's "highest award for valor in action." Two of those recipients, heroes who come so few and far between, hail from Cheshire, Conn.
"It was I suppose a coincidence, but coincidence or not, it's noteworthy," said John White, Navy veteran and Cheshire resident. (White's name may ring a bell, as he lobbied for President George Washington to receive a posthumous Medal of Honor.
What do a shoe cobbler, a car dealer, and an ex-police officer have in common? Being normal occupations, most will assume the answer to be nothing.
However, the small community of Libby, Montana, knows better than to make that assumption. These three men are all military veterans who found themselves united in the pursuit of a single dream. This shared dream led each man on an extraordinary mission to establish a local memorial for military veterans.
In talking with them it becomes apparent that the meaning of “Service to Country” is near and dear to their hearts.
Almost a half-century after his service, John Burnam saw the Military Working Dog Teams National Monument dedicated. He learned about their work firsthand during his second tour in Vietnam, when he served as a scout-dog handler with the Army.
“I knew what it was like to face the enemy but I didn’t know what it was like to take a dog out on patrol,” he said.
Burnam learned to watch their ears, the skin on their backs, listen to their breath, watch if their mouths closed because they'd smelled something ominous.
Guns n Hoses Pipes n Drums of Southwest Florida will honor the 69th anniversary of the iconic raising of the flag on Iwo Jima, by playing Feb. 23 at the Iwo Jima monument in Cape Coral, Fla. The American Legion ceremony will include music, fanfare and a flag ceremony. It will be the third such ceremony Guns n Hoses has participated in.
Many veterans attend, even some who served at Iwo Jima.
“It was great to see them," Legionnaire Chuck Marklin said. "We perform for their pleasure as well as in honor of the monument. ...
The apartment complex for seniors and disabled people where I live, Alpine Manor Apartments in Texas, recently had a large palm tree at the entrance taken down. As the tree has been dead for 10 years, it was a good decision.
However, rather than try to remove the stump, one of the workmen, Paul Garcia, a veteran and fellow Airborne Trooper, carved the stump into a bench and placed a POW/MIA flag on it. I took the photo. Many others have not come home, and all of us need to express our support.
The original idea, hatched in 2001 at Post 341 in Bella Vista, Ark., was simple enough: a granite wall of honor commemorating veterans from all branches of service, from all American wars since 1776, in the style of a similar monument in Mountain Home, Ark.
It would take $700,000 and more than a decade, but this idea would be realized several-fold.
Leonard Eisert’s brother had helped the project in Mountain Home and told Eisert about the veterans’ council they had formed.
Post 16 in Lynchburg, Va., unveiled a Purple Heart Memorial last spring, to honor those veterans wounded or killed in service. The Military Order of the Purple Heart's local chapter donated the $9,000 memorial to the post, former Commander Leslie Baker said.
The post dedicated the memorial, a three-year project, and the Walk of Honor, a path of engraved bricks leading to the monument, in a Veterans Day ceremony.
The memorial greets visitors and members outside the Legion's front entrance and faces those driving by.
Whayland H. Greene, a World War II veteran who earned a Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars, had a dream of building a memorial for those who did not come home. With the help of his wife, Jo Ann, the citizens of Belcher, Louisianna state representatives, veterans and others, his dream came true 60 years after the end of WWII.
The Belcher Veterans Memorial's formal dedication was Aug. 17, 2002.
American Legion posts 15 and 2000 in Loveland, Colo., joined forces in honoring those who served on Dec. 7, 1941.
Today not very many communities do more than lower their flags to half staff to pay tribute and memorialize Dec. 7, 1941, and the event that led us in to World War II. Marilee Rayome wanted to do more and build on a long standing tradition in Loveland of honoring and remembering the day that will live in infamy.
A memorial made after the Vietnam Wall came to Waco more than five years ago was finally lowered in the ground recently. A memorial service was held at American Legion Post 121 in Elm Mott.
Vietnam veteran and event organizer Bill Mahon describes how they came up with the vault idea.
"Folks would leave mementos, pictures, letters, notes, flowers, teddy bears. Each day we would collect them and would put them in this vault that was on site and we had promised that we would bury it with dignity somewhere in the community," said Mahon.
In Stella, Mo., you can't miss the veterans' memorial. Though the population of the village hovers around 150, the town is the home of a $51,000 memorial, Legionnaire and former memorial chairman Charles Dalbom said.
"When you come down the road from anywhere it is a focal point in the town," Dalbom said.
Clovis Ordogne did something his late wife, Judy, would have never believed. He had a mural commissioned on the outside of the American Legion Post 11 in Thibodaux, La., in her honor.
Clovis is an Air Force veteran who, among other jobs, served running supplies to the Germans during Stalin's Berlin Blockade after World War II.
Clovis and Judy met in 1979 at the restaurant where she was working at the time and hit it off. They shared that distinct Louisiana love for Saints football. They went to see some games at the Superdome. They both spoke French. He was a member of the Legion.
Some lives are worth commemorating because of the inspiration they give to future generations. Ed Whitcomb is one of those.
From his dramatic escape out of the Philippines during World War II, to abandoning politics for the thrills of sailing solo around the world, Whitcomb is an explorer with an independence that makes him a truly unconventional and unique Hoosier.
In the twilight of life Ed has settled in the small Ohio River town of Rome, Ind.
This Veterans Day event was held at the Nixa Community Center in Nixa, Miss.
Our American Legion Post 434, together with VFW Post 6758, American Legion Auxiliary Post 434, and American Legion Riders, Post 434 organized and participated in this event.
My brother John and I will conduct a Veterans Day ceremony at the State Capitol Rotunda in Sacramento, California, with the USMC Combat Helicopter Association Memorial Bell.
The bell, created by and under the custodianship of my brother John A. Gordon, U.S. Marine Corps Vietnam veteran, will be rung at a 1 p.m. ceremony on Veterans Day in the rotunda of the State Capitol in Sacramento. This will mark the second annual ceremony at the Capitol recognizing all U.S. veterans of all military branches.
Our fellow comrade Leon Kohler (from Post 4 in Lakeland, Fla.) has written a very moving poem after viewing the “Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall.” It is worth noting that Leon himself served in Vietnam, so he understands the sacrifice that was made by so many and is grateful for this memorial. The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall is a 3/5 scale of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. It is a reminder of the great sacrifices made during the Vietnam War and was made for the purpose of helping to heal and rekindle friendships.
Post 138 in Port Tampa City held a POW/MIA remembrance ceremony on Friday, Sept. 20, to commemorate National POW/MIA Recognition Day and honor our fellow comrades still missing from our nation’s past wars, returned POWs and their respective families.
Commander Ron Duncan led the ceremony, assisted by Acting Chaplain Shelli Romeu and Sergeant-at-Arms Dan Carter. Each detail of the POW/MIA chair, table and items was recounted so that all in attendance knew the meaning and importance of the symbolism of the POW/MIA chair.
The ceremony was held Friday, Sept. 20 at Boyce Aten American Legion Post 25 located in El Centro, Calif. Although this night seemed pretty normal, with more than 50 dinners served from 6-8:30 p.m. and karaoke begining at 8 p.m., this was a night remembered. At about 9 p.m. with 50+ people in attendance, instead of performing karaoke, the post commander took the mic and held a POW/MIA remembrance ceremony. Assisted by the Area 5 commander, the ceremony was unexpected yet well appreciated and touching, as tears flowed from many attendees.
Owen Coffman Legion Post 519 (Palm Springs, Calif.) recently dedicated its main hall room to one of World War II’s lost heroes, Roaul Prieto. While a deceivingly simple gesture, it is an honor that has been a long time coming, much in thanks to Roaul’s nephew, Legionnaire Eugene R. Prieto.
Eugene was a young boy, 6 or 7, when his grandparents received the letter from the Army Air Corps that changed his whole life: it said simply that Roaul had been killed.
The highest honor that can be awarded a man in the military is the Congressional Medal of Honor. About 3,400 of these medals have been awarded to members of the military in the five branches of service since 1861. Elizabethtown has the honor of being the home of record for not one but two such heroes: Lt. Robert Dale Reem of the United States Marine Corps and Sgt. William David Port of the United States Army.
Reem graduated from Elizabethtown High School in June 1943, joined the Marine Corps in August 1943 and was selected to attend the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.