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Guest editorial: Lest we forget

As the number of World War II members diminish, so has the Americanism spirit they brought back with them. It was a time when the American people were behind our servicemen 100 percent, and it's carried our service clubs (American Legions, VFWs) ...

As the number of World War II members diminish, so has the Americanism spirit they brought back with them.

It was a time when the American people were behind our servicemen 100 percent, and it's carried our service clubs (American Legions, VFWs) through all these years. They were the backbone of these clubs and we've fed off that all these years.

But, as these members diminish, our service clubs across the country have followed.

The Richfield, Minn., American Legion - at one time the second largest in the United States with 6,500 members - is gone. St. Paul's last VFW closed two or three years ago. Bemidji at one time had 1,400 members but closed at the end of 2014. I'm sure the list goes on.

Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Grenada, Persian Gulf, Panama, Gulf War, Iraq, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan - certainly not popular with the American people, and I'm sure most Americans never heard of half of them. I'm also sure some could care less.

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But the point I'm trying to make is, our young men and women have come home from these conflicts disabled, mentally and physically, and many never came home. America hasn't stood behind them as we did after World War II.

Again, as I've said, it's no wonder lack of membership across the country has clubs closing. At the same time, this is what veterans do for our cities, communities and around the country. Pequot Lakes American Legion Post 49 is an example.

The Legion Post, Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion have donated to American Legion veterans programs, including the St. Cloud and Minneapolis VA Medical Centers, Veterans on the Lake, American Legion Family Hospital Association, American Legion emergency fund, Legionville School Patrol camp, $5 bill shower for hospitalized veterans, veterans' Christmas gift shop, Fisher House, emergency funds, Armed Forces Service Center, Hospitalized Veterans Pheasant Dinner, National Creative Arts Festival and Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans.

We send care boxes to our local military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan monthly.

At the local level, we donate to Pequot Lakes Fourth of July activities, shut-in meals, food baskets, benefits for area residents in need, Lakes Area Food Shelf, Lakes Area Caregivers, Northern Crow Wing County First Responders, Kid Konnection, Pequot Lakes Library, Pequot Lakes Veterans Memorial, senior van, nursing homes, energy assistance program, senior nutrition program and Pequot Lakes Fire Department.

Children and youth program recipients include Minnesota Girls State, Minnesota Boys State, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Minnesota home schools, Forgotten Children Fund, National Child Welfare Foundation, Grad Blast, Eclipse teen center, Children's Miracle Network, Work Readiness student activity, Pequot Lakes High School band, community swim program, Halloween and Easter parties, Spirit of Youth Foundation, Rapture program, school library books, Ronald McDonald House, Christmas for Kids, Breakfast with Santa and scholarship donations to graduating seniors.

We also have Auxiliary members who sew quilts every Monday morning at the club that are taken to the St. Cloud Veterans Hospital and distributed to veterans. Some of these gals go to Pine River's Good Samaritan and call bingo for the seniors. The list goes on.

In addition to the many monetary donations, we furnish our hall at no charge to many groups to use for fundraising, blood drives, benefits, etc.

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As a Legion Post, we were chartered in 1923. As members of the Pequot Lakes American Legion Post 49, we are proud and grateful to be in the position to donate to the community children and youth programs and to veterans programs.

But we also need your help. If you're a veteran, we need your membership. It's very important to us as a post. We also need volunteers to make all our programs successful. Believe me, it takes a lot of help.

Our donations as a rule for all our programs run between $75,000 to $90,000 per year, depending on funds available. So you can see, your patronizing us is what keeps our programs going and the front doors open. For that, we thank you.

In conclusion, Mike Marcum, pastor at Pequot Lakes Baptist Church who is also our Post 49 chaplain who served with distinction in Vietnam, had a buddy there who wrote a short book of their ordeals after the war. It says it all:

"The American veteran will always be the foundation and beginning of our country's freedom."

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