for American Legion Post #142; Hominy, Oklahoma.
>>> by Gary Lanham
Our Thursday night meeting was headed by Post Commander Jim Frazier, who
updated the group on what happened at the District Convention a week
prior. He also brought up an event that occurs the first Wednesday of
each month at 1500 hours (3:00 PM) at Ft Gibson’s Shelter Area. It
turns out that they conduct a funeral service for veterans who have no
family to claim them, many homeless. They are given honors for their
service to our country and laid to rest with fellow patriots. The full
honors are bestowed to those being laid to rest and flag presented to
the keeper of this field of honor. Many of these former soldiers were
homeless veterans, who for one reason or another fell to hard times. Jim
noted the majority were Vietnam veterans.
I recall when I was a young man, living in Southern California in the
late 60’s, witnessing the disrespect shown to our returning soldiers.
They came back to no parades and no accolades. Many returned,
volunteers or draftees, having done their duty in difficult times, and
just tried to get back to a sense of normal. For some that was a
mission that could not be accomplished, at least not in the short term.
The American Legion provided for many a place to come, talk, and share.
Established and mandated by Congress after WWI, the American Legion has
been the advocate for the veteran, looking out for their rights that,
at times after a conflict, our government could tend to overlook. But I
think more importantly it becomes that place where veterans can find
kindred spirits, others who have “been there and done that”.
I volunteered toward the end of that conflict, although I had shaggy
hair at that time (you wouldn’t know that now looking me now) my dad
brought me up on John Wayne movies, I just couldn’t turn my back on our
heritage the way my contemporaries did. I witnessed a time serving
where there was a sense of discouragement and disappointment. Our
military was decimated and funding greatly reduced. But during the in
the 1980’s things changed. There was a greater sense of purpose,
inspired leadership, culminating with the Berlin Wall being removed
from our collective memory. The veterans began to receive their long
overdue recognition, then in my opinion, the healing truly began for
many. For some it was too late, but they receive theirs at the cemetery
at Ft Gibson.
On a more upbeat note, our Adjutant Eli Prater brought in a beautiful
piece of handcraft. This display cabinet is an outstanding addition to
the Hut. I was amazed at the care and artistic effort that went into
it. Many great memories will be honored in the display case.
Job well done Eli.
Our Post Commander Frazier also informed the group that on June 6th, we
will have the election of officers and that all positions are open for election.
As a reminder, we are approaching Memorial Day weekend and Armed Forces
Day. We find ourselves in need of donations to replace display flags, so
we can honor our past patriots. If you are a current patriot that
believes in recognizing the service of our past defenders of freedom
and want to contribute call Babo at 918-885-6041.
It will be appreciated!
Our regular meetings are the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of each month at
1900 hours (7:00 PM), and our Monday morning Koffee Klatch meetings
with waffles, where we keep up on each other’s mischievous doings run
generally from 7 am to 9:30 am. All veterans are welcome!