Guest blog post by Texas ALA Unit 113 President Rita Redd
Until 2020, The American Legion Family of Post 113 and the VFW Post and Auxiliary 1836 did not work together much, but the new incoming VFW Auxiliary President Gerald Spradlin reached out to me, and a great and growing relationship began.
The American Legion Family of Post 113 does not own their own post home building but is housed at the local senior citizens center which limits the type and number of events and fundraisers that can be held at this location. A few years ago, a large sum of money was donated to the building fund of the senior center by a local judge and 70-year member of American Legion Post 113 with the stipulation that The American Legion could meet there at no expense for as long as they wanted to. The local VFW 1836 had a building and 30 acres donated to them shortly after World War II, but they do have a lot of overhead expense to deal with. So, we have and are working on a win-win for both organizations.
One of our first projects together was our “Stronger Together” Memorial Day event. We twisted the two organization’s poppies together to distribute and split the funds equally.
This was started as we both kept hearing, “Oh we already got one!” But the one they got was from the other organization, so we decided to show the public that the poppies are made differently but are for the same purpose — our veterans.
We still distribute our poppies separately for different individual events, but together on Memorial Day.
June 14, Flag Day, is a big city of Lufkin event and a couple of years ago ALA Unit 113 decided it was time to get those tattered, torn, badly faded flags from yards all around the county. They went neglected and not replaced as needed during COVID-19 and it became an eye sore to drive around town. A “flag exchange” was created which went well, but we did not have a way to dispose of the flags once exchanged — so we asked the VFW for help. They held a flag disposal ceremony the following day. Then last year, we decided to make it a one-day event. The ALA Unit 113 flag exchange event was held on Saturday during the day. Then the VFW held the flag retirement later that evening but all in the same day at the VFW Post 1836 home. Flag Day was the following Tuesday at the civic center downtown. After the program, the three groups put their heads together and decided that Flag Day 2023 would be an all-together big event. The flag exchange will start around mid-afternoon with the actual Flag Day ceremony promptly at 5:30 p.m. ending with the Pledge of Allegiance at 6 p.m. nationwide. Then everyone will adjourn outside for the flag disposal and retirement.
In September, the two organizations held a joint Patriots Day ceremony at the VFW Post 1836 on Sept. 11. Then on Sept. 16, a joint POW/MIA ceremony was held at the Angelina County Senior Citizens Center, home of The American Legion Family 113.
In the works for the near future is a joint “Veteran’s Jeopardy” game day to hopefully boost membership for both organizations. The jeopardy game will include categories such as veteran service organizations, poppies, children of veterans, and much more. One of our local companies that was started by a veteran many years ago and supports us will be our guest host and will be furnishing food and prizes for the event to be held in the VFW hall. Hopefully more details will be ironed out after the holidays.