Jim Adams did a great job of organizing and promoting Mike’s speaking engagement at 3rd Place Books. Approximately 70 folks showed up and attended the event. Seated in the front row were a Gold Star mother and father who’s son portrait was drawn several years ago. At the time they lived in the Midwest and only recently moved to the NW. Having them in attendance just brought to attention that this project is about supporting the families of the fallen. After the speech, the Post presented Mike a check for $1,000 to support his work. Mike told me later that the Gold Star parents had made a similar contribution. We will continue, as a Post, to assist him in his efforts.
The annual American Legion Post 66 & Post 8870’s Christmas party is being held December 17th at 2PM at the Legion Hall at 6th and Dayton. Families are invited and the more the merrier. In order to have sufficient food for everyone, we need to get a head count so if you intend to participate, let the Quartermaster know as soon as possible. The cost of admission is non-perishable food items which will be donated to the Food Bank. In addition, bring an unwrapped toy (or two) and we will make sure they will get to a needy child. We had a packed house last year and look forward to another great event this year. At this time it looks as if this will be a potluck event. Once we get a head count and menu, we will send out an email as to who brings what.
Robert Allen, a primary grade teacher at the Madrona K-8 School, was named Elementary Teacher of the Year for our Post. He is described by his Principal as being a model of courtesy, thoughtfulness, humility, and respect for his students and colleagues. Robert is a dedicated professional who strives to make a difference in the lives of those with whom he works and serves. For many years, Robert has helped organize school assemblies and special programs designed to honor and respect our nation’s veterans. Robert is a graduate of the University of Washington and earned a Master’s Degree from Antioch University. He has been teaching since 1997. He lives in Seattle.
The Post’s Middle School Teacher of the Year is Jami Samione who teaches 8th grade Social Studies at the Maplewood K-8 Parent Cooperative in Edmonds. Jami was recognized for her expertise and passion for building on the ideals of democracy through improved citizenship. Through the use of interactive online program called “Civic Mirror”, Jami’s students create their own country for the purpose of instilling in them a love, commitment and respect for civic involvement. Jami has received B.S. and Master’s degrees from Western Washington University, and she began her teaching career in 1995. She and her family reside in Edmonds.
Bridget Mahoney-Ferandes was recognized as the Post’s High School Teacher of the Year. Her teaching career began in California in 1988, and she has been a Social Studies teacher at Edmonds-Woodway High School since 1997. She has a passion for American History, and her curriculum emphasizes an understanding and appreciation of our nation’s founding documents and institutions. Students are placed in a variety of simulations, which promote responsible decision-making skills. Bridget models the meaning of being an active citizen, one who serves her school-community. Students recognize and praise her for her ability to “connect” with them, which inspires and motivates them to become active learners. Bridget and her family live in Edmonds.
A couple of things. First, I want to say thank you to Elizabeth Mather for all the work she has done for the Post as Quartermaster. The best thing about being Commander is you know who does the work of the Post and first, and foremost, it is the Quartermaster. Second, you know who does the work accurately and completely because you get to see all the correspondence from Department requesting this or that from the other Posts but never a request to 8870. And finally, I want to publically thank Elizabeth in The Last Word as there are a number of you who can’t attend meetings.
As the article in this newsletter stated, the Post also participated in the memorial service for Mary Justason, the Post’s first QM. While preparing to say a few words about Mary at the service, I spoke with Art Perry, the first Commander of Post 8870 when it was formed in 1982. It sounds like Mary and Elizabeth were cut out of the same mold. Everything he said about Mary applied equally to Elizabeth. The bottom line is Art and I were equally lucky to have two fine Quartermasters taking care of Post 8870 under our commands.
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“In Serving in Our Military Is There Pride?” by Katarina Nguyen
“I’m sorry; you didn’t make it. I will live my life for you”.
The crumpled letter is overlooked, tucked away in the crevices of the Boots to Books Monument erected for soldiers; a message from one soldier to another: one hero to another. This soldier has spent his birthday surviving a surprise ambush; this soldier has witnessed his best friend being blown to pieces; this soldier has been through the fiery depths of near-death and has scratched his way back. These soldiers enlisted because it was their intrinsic duty towards their country; they enlisted to stop the inherent evils of the world; they enlisted for you and me, America. I’ve had the honor of speaking to soldiers from all walks of life. Their unanimous answer to my inquiry, “is there pride in serving in our military?” replays in my mind: “I have lost brothers and sisters, a part of my soul. But being there, for my family and my country, I am proud.” These soldiers are interwoven in an intricate tapestry of American pride, each thread a vibrant spark of red, white, and blue: the colors of freedom.
94 year old P-39 pilot Buck enters the room, with thick glasses perched on his wrinkled face. The colonel’s sunken eyes remain proud as he recollects his 137 flight missions during World War II: Smoke and flames choked the air as airplanes wildly spiraled downwards and out of control. Seeing the white, blossoming parachutes though, he knew some pilot was being saved. As the bursts swirled towards the ocean, a navy was waiting. Buck’s pride is apparent.
Tom saunters in; as a medic Staff Sergeant during the Korean War, he is an unsung hero. Tom whispers, “It overwhelms you: a three ton truck full of U.S. men, dead. The KIAs were stacked like cardboard until spring”. Tears threatened to spill for those he couldn’t save; he hasn’t cried in 30 years. He has saved lives, working through icy winters and blazing summers in the 23rd infantry of the second division. Despite everything, Tom’s pride is apparent.
Jim, a proud E-5 Sergeant, lost his best friend during the Vietnam War: Ron was only 19. Kevin lost 241 brothers and sisters, in a single terrorist attack in Lebanon. Peter was a fortunate survivor of an Iraqi suicide car bomb; he also missed his five-week old son growing up while serving in Afghanistan. James remembers the friends he lost in Europe from the Cold War. These soldiers have seen limbs blown apart and bodies strewn about amidst rapid gunfire and warfare, the fleeting image of their loved ones as their last thoughts. With each life lost, is the loss of a caring father, an optimistic boy scout, a quiet sister, a beloved American. Yet, amongst this loss is pride. Patriots fight in air, land, and sea, for you and me, America. They carry their hearts out onto the bloodied battle field and bear the burden of sacrifice to protect our proud nation.
We will perpetually set the sacred table: the bitter lemon wedge and salt grains of fate and tears, the vacant chair of loss, the delicate black napkin of captivity, the lone overturned glass of an uneaten meal, the pure white candle of peace, the single blood-red rose and the ribbon of hope, the rough grains of salt spelling out the word “hero”, all placed on the simple white tablecloth of a soldier’s pure heart. Our nation takes pride in honoring our heroes.
Throughout history, brave soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines -at home and abroad- have fought to protect our nation, our freedom, and our values. They continue to bear the uniform of the United States of America from the 235 years since our nation’s declaration of independence. It’s quixotic to believe that you and I could enjoy this sweet freedom without the blood, sweat, and tears and the unwavering determination of those serving in our military that we often take for granted. The pride arising from standing shoulder to shoulder with brothers and sisters in arms, under a single flag is immeasurable.
So, as the rain begins to fall and the wind picks up, the crinkled letter is swept away and the ink smears into bright multihued splotches. The soldier’s words fade away to join the soldier’s fallen friend, but his message is etched in my mind. Despite the loss, there is hope. Among the crevices springs life. In our military, there is pride.
The Washington Department of Veterans Affairs is sponsoring a raffle in conjunction with the Washington State Lottery. The proceeds will go to provide financial assistance to soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan through the Veterans Innovations Program. Tickets are $10 and the proceeds of every ticket sold directly benefits soldiers and their families. The drawing is November 11th.
Our November meeting falls on Veterans Day and the Edmonds Senior Center will be closed. We have moved the meeting to the American Legion Post 66 Hall on 6th and Dayton in Edmonds. Lunch will be served. We are starting a pool and betting on how many members show up at the closed Senior Center on the 11th. I can think of one for sure (and no, I won’t disclose my guess), but my bet is three. Please make me lose the bet by showing up at the correct location.
At the October meeting we were treated to Erv and Tom Hallums relate their story of the journey to Washington DC on an Honor Flight trip. Honor Flight is an organization dedicated to flying as many WWII veterans to the Capital to view the WWII Memorial. Tom, a Korean War vet, accompanied Bob Otto while Erv was accompanied by his son, a Vietnam vet. They were treated first class during the entire trip and, while just a two day visit, were guided to all the veterans’ memorials, not just the WWII Memorial. A few interesting facts; the Memorial was built entirely from donations from the public. The Memorial is the only memorial between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. It wasn’t built without controversy as a number of people did not want any memorial to be located in this area. Hopefully, we will be able to assist a couple of more members take the Honor Flight in the Future.
Pete grew up in Winchester, Virginia and attended Virginia Military Institute. Upon his graduation from VMI, he was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the U. S. Army and received advanced training in field artillery. He volunteered and served two tours of duty in Vietnam. During his first tour in 1969, Pete was stationed in 2nd Corps. When he returned to Southeast Asia, Pete saw action at several fire bases throughout South Vietnam. After serving in the Army for eight years, Pete was discharged from Fort Lewis in 1976. Two years later, he returned to the Pacific Northwest, living in Seattle. He is a retired banking executive, and he and his wife, Patty, now reside in Edmonds. They have two sons, one who lives in Oregon, and their youngest son is a student at his father’s alma mater, VMI.
William is a twenty year veteran of the Navy, who retired in 2001 at the rank of Commander. He is a native of Chicago, and was a Naval Aviator. William attended the Ohio State University, receiving a B.S degree in Aeronautical Engineering. While attending the Naval War College, William earned a Master’s Degree in National Security and International Affairs. During his career, William flew anti-submarine warfare missions and also served as an instructor pilot and test pilot. His overseas assignments included tours in Japan, Okinawa, Thailand, Diego Garcia, and the Philippines. Among his decorations, William was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal with 1OLC, Meritorious Service Medal with 1 OLC, Navy Achievement Medal with 3 OLC, and four Sea Service Deployment Ribbons. William is an Avionics Design Engineer at Boeing. He and his wife, Linda, are residents of Edmonds.