VOD and Patriots Pen Contest

We had great participation in our Voice of Democracy and Patriots Pen contest.  For the first time this year, we also had a number of entries from the elementary grades as well.  Rock Roth and Fred Apgar have honchoed the contests and determined the winners.

As in the past two years Katarina Nguyen is the winner of the VOD contest.  Katarina is a senior at Edmonds-Woodway high school.  The Patriots Pen winner is Gunnar Brent from Maplewood PCEP and the Youth Essay winner is Isabella Harris from Mukilteo Elementary.  We have invited the winners to our December Post meeting.

Our entries have been submitted to District 1 for competition and we will learn who won at the District meeting in January.

The Price of a VFW Membership

Membership is critical to the life of any organization.  Membership in the VFW isn’t like a membership in the Rotary or the Lions.  I recently received my alumni newsletter from the 11th Armored Cavalry’s Veterans of Vietnam and Cambodia.  Like every other veterans’ organization, they, too, are seeking new members although their pool of potential eligible members is much smaller than VFW’s.  However, they made an interesting statement in seeking membership.  They said something to the effect that the “the price you pay for a membership isn’t that expensive compared to the price you paid to become eligible for membership”.  Obviously, that is equally true for your VFW membership.  So if you haven’t paid your dues, just remember that the dues you already paid where much, much more expensive.  And for you continuous members, seriously consider a life membership.  It will be cheaper in the long run.

The Ladies Auxiliary Corner—Valerie Ehlers, President

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Unfortunately, we did not receive a report on the finding of a venue for the Christmas Luncheon before the November meeting, so everyone has already scheduled their time elsewhere and there is no-one left to attend the luncheon. Therefore, I hope whoever is President next year will be able to have one for you.

Our December meeting will be back at the Edmonds Senior Center on December 9th. Remember they are serving lunch at 11:30 a.m. now and we start our meeting when we are finished eating. I’m looking forward to seeing you there. Until next time. . . this is Valerie,  your Ladies Auxiliary President.

Post Performs Memorial Service for Mary Justason, Post’s 1st QM

A standing room only crowd attended the memorial service for Mary at Post’s 921 meeting in Snohomish.  Les Abel, Tom Hallums, Dexter Miller, Fred Apgar, and Jim Traner performed the memorial service at the request of the family.  Mary was a founding member of the Post and was a long time member of 921’s Auxiliary after moving to the Snohomish area many years ago.  Members of Posts 921, 1040, and 1561 also attended the ceremony.  As you can see from the photo, Mary certainly had an impact on VFW and her local community.

Post Performs Memorial Service for Mary Justason, Post’s 1st QM

Chaplain’s Corner—Rock Roth

This is a TRUE e-mail from a young ensign aboard USS Winston Churchill (DDG-81) to her parents. Churchill is an Arleigh Burke class AEGIS guided missile destroyer, commissioned March 10, 2001, and is the only active US Navy warship named after a foreign national. This True Story tells of an event that occurred shortly after the terrorist attack on the United States on September 11, 2001.  It provides a good example of the espirit de corps felt between members of the military, even those of other nations.  Military members, no matter what the service or county, have shared and lived through similar experiences, experiences not shared by our civilian counterparts, experiences civilians cannot really understand or appreciate.  I also believe that we with military experience share closeness to our God that ‘others’ cannot easily understand or appreciate.  “There are no atheists in a foxhole”, and “There are no atheists in the cockpit of an aircraft landing on a pitching carrier deck on a dark, cloudy, rainy night”.  In researching the following I learned that the author was a young Navy Officer, Megan Hallinan.  The letter was written to her father.  The letter was posted on the US Navy website by the Navy Office of Information on 26 September 2001.  —–

We are still at sea. The remainder of our port visits have all been cancelled. We have spent every day since the attacks going back and forth within imaginary boxes drawn in the ocean, standing high-security watches, and trying to make the best of it. We have seen the articles and the photographs, and they are sickening. Being isolated, I don’t think we appreciate the full scope of what is happening back home, but we are definitely feeling the effects. About two hours ago, we were hailed by a German Navy destroyer, Lutjens, requesting permission to pass close by our port side. Strange, since we’re in the middle of an empty ocean, but the captain acquiesced and we prepared to render them honors from our bridgewing. As they were making their approach, our conning officer used binoculars and announced that Lutjens was flying not the German, but the American flag. As she came alongside us, we saw the American flag flying half-mast and her entire crew topside standing at silent, rigid attention in their dress uniforms. They had made a sign that was displayed on her side that read “We Stand By You.”

There was not a dry eye on the bridge as they stayed alongside us for a few minutes and saluted. It was the most powerful thing I have seen in my life. The German Navy did an incredible thing for this crew, and it has truly been the highest point in the days since the attacks. It’s amazing to think that only half-century ago things were quite different. After Lutjens pulled away, the Officer of the Deck, who had been planning to get out later this year, turned to me and said, “I’m staying Navy.” I’ll write you when I know more about when I’ll be home, but this is it for now.

Love you guys,

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Service – Naval Station Everett

All veterans regardless of service or conflict are being invited to the Peal Harbor Remembrance service on December 7th, at 1000 hrs. at the Grand Vista Ballroom.  However, if you wish to attend you must get prior clearance.  I have arranged to be the point man and submit a list of everyone who wishes to attend in advance.  So if you are interested, please let me know ASAP.  You can email me at [email protected].   By the way, this is the 70th anniversary of Peal Harbor Day so it should be a special event.

Mike Reagan and 3rd Place Books

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.

Legion/VFW Christmas Party

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.

Post’s Teachers of the Year

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.

The Last Word

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.

Youth Essay

Youth Essay Contests

Voice of Democracy Contest

“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.