Gold Star Post 820, Monroeville, Penn.
The name "Gold Star" refers to the Gold Star Mothers Club, which was formed after World War I to provide support for mothers who lost sons or daughters in war. It was common for families with sons or daughters serving in war to hang a banner called a Service Flag in the window of their homes. The Service Flag had a star for each family member serving in the war. Living servicemembers were represented by a blue star, and those who had lost their lives were represented by a gold star. A Gold Star Mother is any American woman who has lost a son or daughter in service to the United States. By presidential proclamation to honor these mothers, Gold Star Mother's Day is observed in the U.S. on the last Sunday in September each year.
I have been a member of The American Legion for 20 years and never got involved until last year. The reason I decided to get involved was that my spouse and I just got back into riding motorcycles, and we were looking for people to ride to Washington, D.C., to do the Rolling Thunder ride with us. One day in May I left my old post and came into Gold Star Post 820 and saw a bunch of bikers with American Legion Rider vests on, which I never knew that group existed until then. I walked up to them and started talking, and I was greeted with open arms.
I was so impressed with the quality of people in the Riders chapter that I decided to transfer my membership to the Gold Star post and join their Riders group. Soon after joining, I started volunteering more time to the post, Riders chapter and our local vets, than I put in a normal work week. In my 20 years of being a Legionnaire, I have never been an officer until I joined the Gold Star post. Soon after transferring my membership, I was asked to be a sergeant-at-arms, the web master for the Riders chapter and then the president of the building fund. The year after that, I moved up in rank to become the post adjutant.
We are a true Legion family with almost 400 members, a Sons squadron, Auxiliary unit and a Riders chapter. We are a very active post and recently have had a booth at the Penn Township Fall Festival (one of our biggest fundraisers of the year); helped the Sons sponsor a Monte Carlo night; assisted the Auxiliary in bingo events at the HJ Heinz Hospital; and brought veterans from the VA hospital to our post for lunch. Our post also received the Norman L. Streicher Award from The American Legion Department of Pennsylvania last year. The Streicher award is given each year to the Legion post who has volunteered the most time and monies to veterans at VA hospitals. This is not the first time we have received the award from the Department of Pennsylvania.
We are involved in raising funds for The American Legion Legacy Scholarship, and we have received a Congressional award from Congressman Tim Murphy in appreciation for what we do. We fundraise all year long to support our local veterans. Our list is endless.
James E. DeForge, Gold Star Post 820 adjutant
Dispatch wants you to tell us, and the rest of The American Legion, why you love your post. Submit your story and related photo by visiting www.legion.org/dispatch/lovemypost .