Archive for Thursday, June 14, 2001

VFW members work for community

Time for younger members to “fill in the ranks”

June 14, 2001

First of all, I would like to thank you for the excellent article on the Memorial Day service at the cemetery and for mentioning the new flagpoles and the Eagle Scout project with the VFW and others. There were more people at the ceremony this year than in the past.

I think this is a great time to make some comments on the community service the De Soto VFW, Boy Scouts and other organizations provide our citizens. In the 10 years since retiring from the Marine Corps and becoming a proud life member of VFW Post 6654, I have been concerned about our image. Far too many times, I have heard the VFW Post referred to as a "beer joint." It is much more than a bar or a low-priced hall to rent for weddings and parties. Since its opening, its members have contributed so many thousands of hours and dollars to the community and nation that it would take months to compile a list. Most recently, our contributions include the purchase of a drinking fountain for the park, a flagpole for the cemetery, a large donation to the De Soto Fire Department for a thermal camera and the expense involved with bringing the Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall to De Soto Oct. 2-8 this year. It took four years to schedule the memorial's arrival.

The district and national headquarters have recognized our VFW, and it recently received another community service award that people can see, along with many others on display, on the VFW's wall.

My main reasons for these comments are that the VFW Post is not just a beer joint, and most importantly, the VFW is coming into a crisis. Anyone who watches the nightly news knows that our World War II veterans are passing away at approximately 1,100 people per day, with Korean War veterans right behind them. The majority of the VFW's accomplishments and services provided to our community have been because of our older veterans; that is about 10 percent of our 300-plus members who do the work. If the other 90 percent don't move up and take over for our veterans who have served 50-plus years, what can we do in the next 10 years? Whenever I talk to younger veterans about coming out to help or about joining VFW, the most common response is, "I don't have the time." If you have one hour a week or two hours a month to watch television, then you have the time and would be amazed at what has been accomplished by 20-30 VFW volunteers donating a couple of hours a week or month for the past 50 years. I know, because I do the monthly community service report for VFW Headquarters.

So, take this as a plea to our community and my fellow younger Vietnam and Gulf War veterans. Let's fill in the ranks for our beloved older veterans as they leave us. Our children's children and we owe them so much. Where will our community and country be without future volunteers?

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