‘We served our country, now we serve our community’
Photo by Clay Lomneth/The American Legion

‘We served our country, now we serve our community’

Nearly 100 veterans and their special guests enjoyed a dinner on Veterans Day at American Legion Potter Post 192, which is located in the quaint town of Coudersport, Pa. The post has held the dinner, free of charge, for nearly 20 years because “we owe it to our veterans. We feel that as a Legion Family this is the least we can do to recognize those in attendance who have supported us all year,” said Post 192 Adjutant Ted Parsell, a 17-year member of the post.

The Veterans Day dinner is a time for the Post 192 Legion Family and veterans in the community to sit as a family, pay respects to recent Post Everlasting Legionnaires, and savor a hearty meal catered by Auxiliary Unit 192 member Chris Schmoyer and served by seven youth from the Bullseye Blasters 4-H shooters. The post has sponsored the air rifle team for the past 10 years.

“This is our way of giving back. We are very grateful for Post 192’s sponsorship,” said Donald Jackson, a Sons of The American Legion Squadron 192 member and a certified safety instructor for the Bullseye Blasters. The post’s sponsorship of the Bullseye Blasters pays for targets into the Legion’s Junior Shooting Sports Program air rifle tournament, the co-branding of Legion and Bullseye Blasters T-shirts and hats, and entry fees into non-Legion air rifle competitions.

“I enjoy just helping and being here to appreciate all the veterans,” said Rosie Anderson, 15, who has competed on the Bullseye Blasters team now for seven years. “I really appreciate what they do for us as a team.”

Feeding the veterans a meal of stuffed pork chops, salad, mashed potatoes and cake is Schmoyer’s way of “making all the veterans who served our country happy and content,” she said. “It’s nice to see their smiling faces and know they’re happy. It just feels good to give back.”

Following dinner, attendees heard from guests speaker Carl Olshefskie, past department commander of Pennsylvania and a member of Post 192, who reminded all what Veterans Day is about.

“It is up to us that every veteran feels that his or her service to this country is appreciated by their fellow Americans,” Olshefskie said. “There are many ways we can recognize their sacrifice. But the easiest way is to simply say thank you for what you have done for our country. As a nation we should commit to serve our veterans as they have served us.”

Pennsylvania Central Vice Commander Dale Miller was also in attendance to bring greetings. Miller asked attendees to reflect back on why The American Legion was started as the organization prepares to celebrate its centennial.

“(The American Legion) started from veterans helping veterans and serving veterans,” he said. “Please remember that this Legion we belong to was started to serve veterans, help veterans. So I ask you, who is going to fill your shoes in this post once you’re gone? Find an Iraq or Afghanistan veteran and invite them into your post, invite them into your Legion Family. And support them.”

Post 192 hosts another big dinner for its members and veterans in the community on March 19, the Legion’s birthday. The Bullseye Blasters once again serve the meal, but it’s also a time for them to invite their parents and receive awards.

Coudersport may be a small town of around 2,000, but it has a thriving veterans population that includes more than 300 Legionnaires who belong to Post 192. The community support for Post 192 has allowed its members to donate $81,000 back into its community to youth activities and other local programs.

“The sign in front of our post says it all … ‘We served our country, now we serve our community,’” Parsell said.