By Mary O’KEEFE
“The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.” These words may be a distant memory from history class. Some may know that it pertains to World War I but not quite certain how it applies. But for the most part it is a statement lost on present society.
Memorial Day is to remember those who died while serving their country. Armed Forces Day is set aside to thank the military serving, but Veterans Day is to remember those who have served.
“It is more for veterans, those who are no longer active [in military service],” said Warren Spayth, Veterans of Foreign Wars [VFW] post commander, post 1614.
Veterans Day, formerly Armistice Day, was created to honor and remember those who served in the military. For the fourth year, veterans of La Crescenta will gather at Two Strike Park to honor brothers, and sisters, who have served in all branches of the military.
“[Veterans] will begin our vigil at 7 a.m. and go until 3 p.m.,” said Mike Baldwin, American Legion 288 and Veteran of Foreign Wars 1614 adjunct.
At the park, flags will line the sidewalk leading to the flagpole near the War Memorial plaque. At the end of the vigil at 3 p.m., the CV High School JROTC will place a POW/MIA table setting. A reading will be done explaining the significance of the setting. Then Boy Scout Troop 288 will conduct an interactive flag retirement ceremony.
Respecting the American flag and what it stands for, an old flag is retired, not thrown away. The Scouts will explain the reason for the flag retirement procedure and allow the audience to share in the event.
“The Boy Scouts will cut the flag into strips and hand the pieces of the flag out to the audience. They can then place it into the fire [pit],” Baldwin said.
Spayth, Baldwin and VFW assistant quartermaster Roy Allmon are leaders in the fundraising efforts to create a War Memorial Wall at Two Strike Park. The VFW Post 1614 and the American Legion Post 288 spearhead this effort. Donations are being gathered to offset the cost of constructing the memorial, which is scheduled to begin before the end of the year. It will be a wall to honor those Crescenta Valley service personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Names of those who served during World War I and World War II through Korea, Vietnam and recent conflicts.
The tax deductible donation can be mailed to War Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 12182, La Crescenta, CA 91224.
American Legion 288 and VFW 1614
These two veterans organizations are well known for supporting their community and sponsoring military ceremonies like Veterans Day but these posts and their national counterparts do so much more.
Congress chartered the American Legion in 1919 with a focus on service to veterans and service members. This organization has grown into the voice of veterans from getting the proper recognition to fighting for the rights of service men and women.
In 1921 it was through the American Legion’s efforts that the federal government created the U.S. Veterans Bureau, now the Veterans Administration. In 1943 a former national commander initiated the GI Bill of Rights. In the 1960’s members fought for a full accounting of prisoners of war and troops missing in action. In 1983 they sponsored an independent study on the effects of exposure to Agent Orange of Vietnam veterans. Later in 1990 they filed suit against the federal government for failure to conduct a Congress-mandated study about Agent Orange effects. Also in 1990 they created the Family Support Network to assist families of service members deployed in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. In 1995 they formed the Persian Gulf Task Force to enhance service for the newest generation of wartime veterans. Many who suffer from illnesses believed to be linked to their service in the region. In 2002 the American Legion launched the national “I Am Not A Number” campaign to identify and document the delays veterans face in obtaining medical care from the Department of Veterans Affairs, information according to the American Legion website.
The first meeting of what would become the Veterans of Foreign Wars was held in 1899. Like the American Legion, VFW was born from a necessity to give voice to the veteran who at the time had returned from the Spanish American War. In those early years the “camps” of veterans were spread out throughout the country. In the 1920’s the VFW, now untied organization, fought for bonuses for returning World War II veterans. The government had offered those who served in the military a bonus redeemable in 20 years. VFW argued that it was a senseless promise to a starving man that he would have money to eat in two decades. They stepped up their efforts to persuade the government to release the bonuses earlier. In 1932 the government was passed a law slashing veteran’s entitlements to a low amount. This would result in returning veterans not receiving any support through the depression. VFW successfully fought to have that law rewritten. They also sponsored the Disability Allowance of 1930. They worked throughout the Depression to help support veterans. Members worked tirelessly during World War II to help support the government. They trained and organized auxiliary units of police and fire, since most men were serving in the war. They continue to work to release information concerning POW/MIA and to help veterans returning from the Gulf.
The American Legion Post 288 is located 4011 La Crescenta Avenue. The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1614 also has their meetings at the American Legion hall. The VFW had been located on 2900 block of Honolulu Avenue however they lost their lease when the owner of the building decided to sell the property.
Spayth and Baldwin welcome veterans, especially those who are returning from the Gulf to join the organizations.
Spayth said he is certain without the American Legion and VFW, and other veteran’s organizations, Congress will forget those that served in the Gulf 20 years from now.
“They won’t fund and they won’t take care of them,” he said.
That is why they, VFW and American Legion, make certain they take care of their own.