I know for months I have been talking about Armed Forces Day and the Veterans Fair that was held at Houston’s American Legion Post 41, and it finally took place on May 19.

This was the first event like this we have sponsored, and it is expected to become an annual event. The Fleet Reserve Association Branch 364 and the Cabool VFW also assisted and participated.  

The morning started with the Scout Troop 962 performing morning colors. A few minutes later the grill was fired up for hotdogs and hamburgers.

Display tables were set up by the Poplar Bluff VA, Mike Schoelhamer of Jason Smith’s office, Andrew Sharp of the Missouri Veterans Commission and SSG Michael Wright of the Mo ARNG Recruiting and Retention NCO.

Legion member Robert DeMitry had his constitutional display set up. Each person I saw was busily answering questions during the day.  There really were no concrete plans; everyone had the opportunity to mingle and socialize.  

At approximately 11:30 a.m., the first platters of hotdogs and hamburgers were ready and the scouts made quick work of their plates. Tyler DeHart, Jerry Wildhaber and Joann Boyle stayed busy cooking until about 1 p.m.

After lunch, some retired American flags were prepped for a retirement ceremony conducted by Troop 962 and overseen by SSG Wright. The ceremony was held in front of the post building in view of Sam Houston Blvd. 

While getting photos, I witnessed quite a few automobiles slowing to watch. Robert DeMitry played taps during the ceremony. 

I counted 65 people in attendance during the four-hour event, including one Australian army veteran!

I did learn that two veterans received information and assistance to resolve some issues with the Veterans Association, which was the goal of the event. This is the first time and the first event anyone can recall where the three local posts came together and worked to benefit local veterans.

Our after-action report identified some small issues and problems that were overlooked and will be addressed at next year’s Veterans Fair. I’d like to point out that Armed Forces Day is a community wide celebration and not limited to the resident veterans.

The weather did more or less cooperate, as there was one brief heavy shower at about noon. We think that may have scared off a few visitors. 

On June 14, Bob Joens was installed as commander of American Legion Post 41. Post members are confident that Bob will continue to lead the post in a positive direction. So far, he has organized the float that will be in the Independence Day parade set for June 30 in Houston.

The post has its weekly meetings every Thursday starting at 9 a.m. (often running as late as noon) and monthly meetings on the second Thursday of each month starting at 5:30 p.m.

These meetings are open to everyone to stop in, visit, meet the officers and get any information someone may need. 

Houston resident Keith Ford is a retired infantryman and an amateur writer whose work has appeared in publications around the world. Email kf4tap@yahoo.com.

Houston resident Keith Ford is a retired infantryman and an amateur writer whose work has appeared in publications around the world. Email kf4tap@yahoo.com.

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