Since October 1989, American Legion Post 44 in Bantam, Conn., has been conducting Veteran of the Month services that honor deceased veterans and fallen warriors by flying their burial flags. On Oct. 3, the post will mark its 240th consecutive service – a record that may be unequalled by any post of any veterans service organization in the United States.
"We've conducted these services on the first Saturday of every month without a single vacancy in the schedule for 20 years," said Arthur G. St. John, past department commander for Connecticut. "It's one of Post 44's amazing accomplishments."
St. John, who has coordinated the VOM program since January 1990, says it was the brainchild of two past Post 44 commanders: Arthur Shaw and Francis Fabbri, who realized that flying burial flags would be an ideal way to honor the service of deceased veterans. The first honoree was Allan O'Dell, a World War II Navy veteran and Bantam resident.
"This is one of the most important programs that an American Legion post can conduct," said John Aucoin, Post 44 commander. "It takes a lot of dedication and effort to do this for so long, but we've gotten it done for two decades and will continue to do so."
The American Legion officially adopted the VOM program, patterned after Post 44's guidelines, at the 75th National Convention in Pittsburgh in 1993. Eligible honorees include deceased veterans with honorable discharges, servicemembers who died on active duty, those who remain missing in action, and civilian employees of the armed services who were granted full veteran status.