Distressing dichotomy describes veterans’ concerns

Distressing dichotomy describes veterans' concerns
Americans have always been compelled to represent, symbolically, their patriotic and emotional concern for, respect of, and gratitude to our troops who have willingly served in dangerous conflict. From conflict to conflict, the symbols have changed form as they have spontaneously tumbled forth.

The determined compulsion to symbolically voice those emotions, however, has not changed. Betsy Ross stitched a flag. Francis Scott Key wrote a song. Gutzon Borglum sculpted a monument. James Jacobs, whose participation in the 18th "Bataan Death March" was reviewed in the Summer 2007 edition of The South Dakotan, marched.

It was in 1917 that a Hereford yearling symbolically represented my dad's emotional venting of his feelings of concern for the troops in conflict. He made a plan – they would donate a two year old yearling; invite all of their neighbors to a corned beef and cabbage dinner, and after dinner, auction off the young bullock.

The highest bidder would invest the amount of the bid in a World War I War Bond. Solon, a young 33-year-old farmer, studied his herd and picked out the very best yearling of the lot and began pampering it by washing and brushing it, and giving it extra grain.

Jennie, ever supportive of her husband's creative ideas, sat down at her Singer Treadle Sewing Machine; rewound the bobbin and then, how her feet flew! Soon she had fashioned a large white blanket with self fabric ties on either end. The blanket was to be thrown over the back of the yearling, and tied under its belly.

To complete the blanket, Jennie worked many evenings, and by the light of a coal oil lamp carefully appliqu�d a large red satin Swastika and letters on each end of the blanket. The letters of the axiom boldly proclaimed: "You Can't Bull Us"! The symbolic blanket now belongs to the Discovery Museum in Mitchell.

Our daughter, Susan, was 12 years old when she began wearing a bracelet with POW John McCain's name on it vowing to pray for him, and not take the bracelet off until he was released. Susan kept her vow and in 1973 when John McCain was released in Hanoi, she removed that symbolic bracelet. She still has her bracelet and the memories of having worn it.

In the past 20 years, yellow ribbons have become that universally spontaneous symbolic response to emotional concern for our troops and can be seen, as described by David Emery in About.com, "popping up like posies, in towns and cities all across the United States."

The joyful gratitude of our community tumbled forth when members of Charley Battery's 147th Artillery Unit returned home. Gratitude that prayers for the safe return of the Unit had been answered. Gratitude that each Guardsman had been courageous enough to leave their family, their job, their security and willingly serve selflessly in protecting the rights of others. The bands, the banners, the ribbons and flags. Our emotion of joy and pride in their return was honest and boundless.

Increasing numbers of veterans do and will continue to return home to South Dakota. A veteran doesn't just automatically cease having needs when he returns home from active duty; neither does his family nor his community.

Ribbons around trees eventually fade and fall. The music of John Phillip Sousa grows dim as the parade marches by. Numerous new and well intended organizations fold their tents. Even the white blanket – brightly appliqu�d with its red Swastika and bold axiom – yellows.

It is a dichotomy that in our community, while the troops are in harms way, symbols of concern are increasing in number at the same time that the membership of Vermillion's own Wallace Post #1 American Legion Auxiliary decreases in number such that the Auxiliary is in jeopardy of losing its charter.

The display of yellow ribbons is encouraged as commendable. Those somewhat fragile symbols of concern for our troops, however, gain staying-power when paired with membership in the Wallace Post #1 American Legion or its Auxiliary. The Auxiliary has had 88 years of pro-active and on-going support for the troops, their families and their community. When troops are in harm's way, and when as veterans they return home

The membership of the auxiliary can be expected to exceed 40 members by Vermillion's Sesquicentennial in 2009: 1. If the veterans who are not members of the American Legion, join Wallace Post #1 American Legion;. 2. If the wives, daughters, sisters, mothers, grandmothers, etc., made eligible by their relationship to an American Legion member, anywhere, join its Auxiliary, and 3. If the women who can claim an eligible relationship to a deceased veteran, regardless of whether that veteran was a Legion member or not, join the Wallace Post #1 American Legion Auxiliary.

Sponsored by those who served their country, Wallace Post #1 American Legion Auxiliary members are uniquely bonded. Some contacts for information the Auxiliary and the Legion include: Edis J. Anderson, 605-624-4029; Evelyn Hermanson; 605-624-4063, and Clinton Meadows 605-624-4250.

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