November 2018 Post Talk

Post Talk
NORTH BRANCH POST # 85
By Glenn Pierce, Adjutant

Meeting Schedule:

  • Bar Finance & Accounting November 5th at 6:00 pm
  • Membership Meeting November 13th at 7:00 pm
  • Auxiliary Meeting November 13th at 7:30 pm
  • SAL Meeting November 20th at 6:00 pm

Michelle Still, Auxiliary President - Help honor our local Veterans! We will be serving treats for our veterans and guests at Bickford Senior Living on November 8th and at Ecumen on November 9th. Both programs will start at 2:00 PM. Our program will include music, passing out treats and thank you cards. We have a lot of fun visiting with our seniors. If you can't join us, please reach out to a veteran in your neighborhood.

Also, we will be serving food at the next Tail Gate Party hosted by the Sons of the American Legion, November 18th. The previous parties have been a lot of fun.

Orv Otterness, Post Service Officer - At the regular meeting in November of Post 85 we will start out the evening with a special presentation. We will have a guest who will present a Quilt of Valor to one of our members at 7 p.m. The County Veterans Service Officer will be at the Legion Hall Tuesday, November 20 at 9 a.m. He will be talking about the medical use of cannabis and a new way of services from the Veterans Administration. He will be able to answer some of your questions. I attended the Legion’s Department Fall Conference this past month in Marshall, MN. There was a lot of good information shared.

Glenn Pierce, Adjutant - As we enter the hustle of the holiday season let’s take a moment to reflect on the origins and what the Holiday is meant to represent.

Meaning of Thanksgiving - The Real Celebration

For many of us, the meaning of Thanksgiving usually includes feasting, four-day weekends, football games, floats, family reunions, or a forerunner to Christmas festivities. The “first Thanksgiving,” however, was neither a feast nor a holiday, but a simple gathering. Following the Mayflower’s arrival at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620, the Pilgrims suffered the loss of 46 of their original 102 colonists. With the help of 91 Indians, the remaining Pilgrims survived the bitter winter and yielded a bountiful harvest in 1621. In celebration, a traditional English harvest festival, lasting three days brought the Pilgrims and natives to unite in a “thanksgiving” observance.

This “thanksgiving” meal would not be celebrated again until June of 1676. On June 29 the community of Charlestown, Massachusetts proclaimed a day of thanksgiving for their good fortune. Ironically, this celebration excluded the Indians, as the colonists’ recognized their recent victory over the “heathen natives.” One hundred years later, in October of 1777, all 13 colonies participated in a one-time “thanksgiving” celebration which commemorated the patriotic victory over the British at Saratoga. It would take a span of over 150 more years to establish Thanksgiving as we celebrate it -- George Washington proclaimed it a National holiday in 1789, Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November in 1863, and Congress sanctioned it as a legal holiday in 1941.

Randy Koivisto, 1st Vice Commander - The Nebraska Way Article ran in WSJ Monday July 23, 2018 "We were overwhelmed, said Lt. Col. Nick Jaskolski. I don’t really have words to describe how surprised and moved we all were. I had never even heard of the town before. Col. Jaskolski, a veteran of the Iraq war, is commander of the 142nd Field Artillery Brigade of the Arkansas Army National Guard for three weeks earlier this summer, the 142nd had been conducting an emergency deployment readiness exercise in Wyoming, training and sleeping outdoors, subsisting on field rations. Now it was time for the 700 soldiers to return to their base. A charter bus company had been hired for the 18-hour drive back to Arkansas. The Army had budgeted for a stop to get snacks. The bus company determined that the soldiers would reach North Platte, in western Nebraska, around the time they would likely be hungry.

The company placed a call to the Visitors' Bureau: Was there anywhere in town that could handle a succession of 21 buses and get 700 soldiers in and out for a quick snack? North Platte said yes. North Platte has always said yes. The community welcomed more than 700 service men and women June 18-19. During WWII, North Platte was a geographically isolated town of 12,000. Soldiers, sailors and aviators on their way to fight the war rode troop trains across the nation, bound for Europe via the East Coast, or the Pacific via the West Coast. The Union Pacific trains that transported the soldiers always made 10-minute stops in North Platte to
take on water. The townspeople made those 10 minutes count. Starting in December, 1941, they met every train: up to 23 a day, beginning at 5 AM and ending after midnight. Those volunteers greeted between 3,000 and 5,000 soldiers a day. They presented
them with sandwiches and gifts, played music for them, danced with them, baked birthday cakes for them. Every day of the year, every day of the war, they were there at the depot. They never missed a train, never missed a soldier. They fed six million soldiers by the end of the war. Not 1 cent of government money was asked for or spent, save for a $5 bill sent by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The soldiers never forgot the kindness. Most of them, and most of the townspeople who greeted them, are dead. And now, in 2018, those 21 busloads from the 142nd Field Artillery were on their way, expecting to stop at some fast-food joint. We couldn’t believe what we saw when we pulled up, Col. Jaskolski said. As each bus arrived over a two-day period, the soldiers stepped out to be greeted by lines of cheering people holding signs of thanks. They weren’t at a fast-food restaurant: They were at North Platte’s events center,
which had been opened and decorated especially for them. People just started calling our office when they heard the soldiers were on their way, said Lisa Burke, the director of the visitor’s bureau. There were hundreds of people, who wanted to help. The soldiers entered the events center to the aroma of steaks grilling and the sound of recorded music: current songs by Luke Bryan, Justin Timberlake, Florida Georgia Line; World War II songs by Glenn Miller, the Andrews Sisters, Jimmy Dorsey. They were served steak sandwiches, ham sandwiches, turkey sandwiches, deviled eggs, salads and fruit; local church groups baked pies, brownies and cookies.

Mayor Dwight Livingston stood at the door for two days and shook every soldier’s hand. Mr. Livingston served in the Air Force in Vietnam and came home to no words of thanks. Now, he said, as he shook the hands and welcomed the soldiers, I don’t know whether those moments were more important for them, or for me. I knew I had to be there. It was one soldier’s 21st birthday, Lisa Burke said, "When I gave him his cake, he told me it was the first birthday cake he’d ever had in his life." Not wanting to pry, she didn’t ask him how that could possibly be. "I was able to hold my emotions together", she said. Until later when it became time to settle up - the Army, after all, had that money budgeted for snacks--the 142nd Field Artillery was told: Nope. You’re not spending a penny here. This is on us. This is on North Platte.

Mr. Greene’s books include Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen.