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American Legion celebrates 105 years

Department of Missouri Commander Mark Clark was the guest speaker at the American Legion birthday party Thursday night. Photo by Gregory Dullum

Local first responders were recognized and Scout troops received charters at the American Legion Altenthal-Joerns Post 158 birthday banquet March 21 at the Legion Hall in Jackson.

The American Legion has been serving the community, state and nation for 105 years.

“To our law enforcement and first responders, thank you so much for coming tonight,” said Department of Missouri Commander Mark Clerk. “Having your presence here honors us and we very much appreciate all that you do. You are serving in a selfless position where you give of yourselves everyday, much like the those who have worn the cloth of the nation in the Armed Forces.

You get up and leave your homes in the morning, not knowing if you’ll come back. We don’t take that for granted in the American Legion.

“How does any organization survive for 105 years? The reason why we can endure for 105 years is because of the work that we do in our communities. When we say we serve the community, state and nation, we mean it.

“The work we do with our nation’s youth, whether it be through the Scouting programs, whether it be through the patriotic programs we have in school, our civic education programs that we sponsor, the protection of our nation’s flag and educating our nation’s youth as to why it’s important to respect that important symbol; all of the things we do to remind young people that there’s a reason why they should love their country and commit themselves in service to it — All of those things we do everyday is the reason why for 105 years, the American Legion has remained the centerpiece of American society.”

Clark said the American Legion saves lives and changes lives every day, whether it be through life-changing scholarships, lifesaving phone calls during “buddy checks” that reach out to veterans to see how they are doing, or the “Be the One” campaign to stop veteran suicide.

American Legion offers veterans an option if they miss the camaraderie of military service.

“I served in our nation’s Air Force from 1979 to 2009 on active duty,” said Clark. “Every single day, I got up and called myself an airman.” When he retired, Clark said it felt like “a hammer hit me in the heart. I was 47 years old, and I had done this since I was 17, and I was good at it. I didn’t want to leave it. When I left the service, I missed it. I missed the camaraderie of it. I missed being part of something that was bigger than me, something that I could put myself into that had a mission to make life better for all Americans. The American Legion fits that bill.”

District 14 Commander Kevin McMeel presented charters to three Scouting troops. He noted that shortlyafter the American Legion was formed in 1919, it voted to support Boy Scouts, so the connection between Legion and Scouting is 105 years old.

“Scouting units have to have sponsoring organizations, and that’s what we took on a few years ago when we were lucky enough to pick up a Boy Scout Troop and a Cub Scout Pack. They just went through the recharter process.” In addition, a new girls troop received its first charter.

McMeel presented charters to Cub Scout Pack 12, BSA Troop 311 and girls Troop 131.

Post 158 Commander Larry Schott presented a certificate to Assistant Chief Alex Broch, who was named the Legion’s Police Officer of the Year. Police Chief James Humphreys said he selected Broch because “he sincerely cares about doing things right, he has a great work ethic, he’s a naturally self-motivated individual, he has a constant desire to improve and be better, and the proactive approach he takes to serving me and the department makes him very deserving of this award.”

Broch has been with the department for 16 years. “I hope to see him standing here one day as your chief of police when I retire — any day now,” Humphreys added and received a burst of laughter in response. “I honestly think Alex will make a great chief here one day, but when that day comes, I don’t know. I sure hope that Alex gets the call.”

Schott presented the Legion Firefighter of the Year Award to Lt. Eric Ramos.

“Eric has always been a solid, reliable firefighter throughout his career with us, one that would do anything at anytime for anyone,” said Deputy Fire Chief Sean Mitchell.

Ramos has earned numerous certifications, serves on the Homeland Security Response Team and helps train new firefighters, making them feel welcome.

Schott presented the Legion Deputy of the Year Award to Captain Sean Adams of the Cape Girardeau Sheriff’s Office.

Recommended for the award by Sheriff Ruth Ann Dickerson, Adams started with the Sheriff’s Office in 2000 as a civilian jailer and worked his way up to captain of business operations. In addition to his many duties with the Sheriff’s Office, he is involved in too many community organizations to list.

Awards were presented to Reis Meat Processing and Co-op Service Center for their donations and support given to American Legion’s hamburger stand at Homecomers and Oktoberfest.

Harps Grocery Store was recognized for donating carnations that are presented to families of American Legion members who die each year.

The Legion Merit Member for this year is Richard Welker, who cleaned the hall for many years after dances and meetings and was instrumental with the renovation after a storm damaged the Legion Hall.

Two Legionnaires were recognized for 50 years of membership: Milford Seabaugh and Jerry W. Boyd.

Gregory Dullum has worked for The Cash-Book Journal for more than 25 years. Prior to becoming the editor in May 2017, he was production manager, circulation manager and reporter. Before moving to Cape Girardeau in 1988, he was editor of the Saint Louis Park Sailor, a weekly community newspaper in suburban Minneapolis, MN. A native of Minnesota, he returned there after graduating with distinction in 1978 from Ambassador College in Pasadena, CA, with a degree in mass communications. His wife, Marie, whom he met in college, is a native of Zalma, a small town in southeast Missouri. They have two grown daughters and five grandchildren. Gregory may be reached at cashbook@mvp.net.

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