Saturday, October 10, 2009

Voice of Democracy - Patriots Pen

The time left for Jackson area students to prepare their essays for this year's Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen competitions is quickly running out. Teachers and parents of potential contestants should remind their students that their essays and entry applications must be received by November 1, 2009.

The theme for this year's Voice of Democracy competition is 'Does America Still Have Heroes?' This competition is open to all Jackson area students in the 9th to 12th grades.

The theme for this year's Patriot's Pen competition is 'When is the Right Time to Honor Our Military Heroes?' This competition is open to all Jackson area students in the 6th to 8th grades.

Complete entry information including the entry forms may be found at the links above.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fall Membership Drive

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 823 is holding a membership drive throughout the fall. Eligible veterans can receive a free first year's membership in the VFW. This offer is limited to veterans who are not currently members of the VFW and those who are former members of the VFW.

Veterans become eligible to join the VFW by serving in an overseas campaign. These campaigns can be hot wars [such as Vietnam, Panama, Desert Storm, Bosnia a few years back, Iraq, Afghanistan], or they can be national defense missions [such as current service in Bosnia or in South Korea]. If you are not sure if you are eligible, you can either use the contact information below or visit the VFW membership site.

In order to take advantage of this offer, we do ask that new members attend one regular Post meeting for a brief induction ceremony. We appreciate having this opportunity to welcome you into our organization.

If you have questions or if you are ready to join, please contact one of the following:

  • Commander Mike O'Keefe - or 517-782-0613
  • Quartermaster Dann Todd - or 517-764-7821

Monday, September 21, 2009

Voice Of Democracy - 2009 National Winning Essay


“Service and Sacrifice by America’s Veterans Benefit Today’s Youth by…”
by Natale Szabo

If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read it in English, thank a soldier.” My AP European history teacher, and also one of the single most intelligent educators at my high school, has this saying on a poster sitting outside of her room. Every single day hundreds of students pass by. Some of them stop and look, some ignore it, and some barely notice its existence. Few students actually think about it.

It’s amazing the level of freedom we have in this country, and how much we take it for granted. This year is a historical time in politics, being the 2008 presidential elections. Wait – what was that I just said? Elections? We have the power to actually choose who represents us? And we don’t even have to worry about riots or people waiting with guns outside of the election booth? Many people wouldn’t think twice about this. But you and I know that our country is a political anomaly in the scope of the world. The first amendment alone allows Americans to worship at a synagogue, a Christian church, or a mosque, read or publish nearly anything imaginable, and bring huge numbers of people together in a protest. Rich or poor, female or male – Americans have the right to an education, and every single one of us is lucky enough to be tried in front of a jury in the court of law.

But let’s take it further. Not only can we vote on who represents us, but once they’re in office, we can rant, scream, blog, and Photoshop compromising pictures of them all we want. Where else can you do that with the sort of nonchalant attitude that we regard it with? Whether we agree with those things or not, we’re allowed to do it.

Those liberties haven’t come to us without a cost. If it weren’t for a group of brave rebel-rousers in the 1700s, we’d still be spelling color with a “u” and answering to an island in Europe. Every single thing that we Americans take so selfishly as a “right” instead of a “privilege,” has been paid for in blood, tears, and pure determination. We are a country with a population in a league of our own. We are the owners of the American dream and that famous ingenuity that has sparked so much greatness. And at the heart of all of that? Our soldiers. Our brave, selfless, always persevering soldiers.

So what am I thankful for? What do I, a 17-year-old girl who likes designer clothes and only eats organic food, feel appreciative of? I’m thankful for my intelligence. I’m thankful for being able to question what’s happening to me and who’s controlling it. I’m thankful to be able to debate my fellow seniors about last night’s headlines every morning in history class. I’m thankful for being able to wear jeans instead of a dress every day. I’m thankful for my dad, an escapee from the oppressions of Soviet Hungary, to be able to create a prosperous life in America. I’m thankful for the parents, the children, and the siblings who have so selflessly seen their loved ones off to war. I’m thankful that I attend a high school where half of the students have parents who are members of the United States Military, for it is because of that personal connection that I have grown such an appreciation for our armed forces. I’m thankful for the food on my table, the clothes
on my back, the shoes on my feet, the TV in my house, the books that I read, and the life that I live. I’m thankful, and I owe every bit of it to the veterans that have sacrificed for me. Their health, their time, and their families – our military has always put the good of the people above their own well-being.

Most of us haven’t been in the throes of war, and don’t know what it’s like to be shot at. Most of us wouldn’t have the guts to be out there on the frontline. Lucky for us, we have our heroes in shining camo. Whether you’re a republican or a democrat, a protester or supporter of our war in Iraq, a welder or a CEO; you live your life as freely as you do because of a soldier. So next time you see a man or woman in uniform, stop, take off your hat, shake their hand, and thank them from the bottom of your heart for sacrificing themselves every single day. If you’re listening to this right now, thank a soldier.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

VoD - Pats Pen

This years student scholarship essay contests are off to a great start. We have had great response from the Jackson media including our best response from the CitPat in 15 years. If you happen to meet the CitPat's Holly Klaft, please give her a big "thank you" from Post 823.

Please see our earlier entries for the Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen competitions for more information on how senior and junior high school students can earn money to be used towards furthering their education.

If you know of a 9th - 12th grade student [Voice of Democracy] or 6th - 8th grade student [Patriot's Pen], please let them know about these patriotic essay competitions.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Free VFW Racing/NASCAR Poster

We have a small poster of the VFW's NASCAR and NASCAR Truck Series vehicles along with drivers Kevin Harvick and Ron Hornaday. Anyone interested in having the poster should see our Quartermaster Dann Todd at our next meeting on September 3, 2009 at the Legion Post on Falahee Rd.

The first one to ask can have the poster.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

New RSS Service

For those using a service or reader that can access an RSS feed, we have added the ability to subscribe to our RSS feed on the right side of the page. Simply click on the "Posts" button and select where you want to follow the this blog. The "Atom" feed should work directly in your browser.

Monday, August 24, 2009

VFW Teacher Of The Year Competition

The members of Donald L. Wheeler Jr. Post 823 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and our Ladies Auxiliary invite Jackson area schools to nominate their best teachers as the VFW Teacher of the Year. Teachers selected to for nomination should have demonstrated their ability to innovate in the classroom, develop teaching resources, promote civic responsibility, and superior commitment to education.

Candidates may be nominated by fellow teachers, principals, superintendents, or other interested individuals other than relatives. Self-nominees are not eligible.

The first step in the competition is to prepare a 350 letter of nomination for a teacher in one of three categories; K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. Download and complete the entry application. Submit both the nomination letter and the entry application to VFW Post 823 by November 1, 2009. One teacher will be selected in each category.

The winning teachers will be asked to provide a one page resume, up to five pages of documentation of their teaching experience (references, news articles, etc), and a head-and-shoulder photo. This information along with the nominating letter and the application will be forwarded to the next level of the competition at the VFW's 6th District of Michigan.

National Citizenship Education Teacher Awards include a $1,000 award to the winner in each category for development expenses, a $1,000 award to the school of each of the winning teachers, and an all-expenses-paid trip to attend the VFW and Ladies Auxiliary National Conference.

Complete information about the program is located at the VFW's national website.

Jackson area education professionals may also be interested in the VFW's two scholarship essay competitions for students; Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

August 2009 Newsletter

The August 2009 Newsletter has been completed. It should be in the mail in the next week or so.

But you can read it right now by downloading your own copy here.

Read all the current news about your VFW Post and Auxiliary right here on our blog. You might even consider following the blog by using the gadget to the right. You will receive emailed notices anytime new information is posted to the blog.

UPDATE: It appears that we were misinformed about the function of the follower gadget. Using that gadget will cause this blog to appear on you Blogger and perhaps a few other places. But it will not cause any sort of emailed updates to be sent.

We would be glad to have you sign up to follow this blog nonetheless.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Meeting The Department President

left to right - Millie Boyland, Jan Meyers, and Shelly Todd. Photo by Dann Todd

During this year's visit to the VFW National Home For Children, two of our Auxiliary members had the opportunity to meet this year's VFW Auxiliary Department of Michigan President, Jan Meyers. Post 823 Auxiliary President Shelly Todd and Secretary Millie Boylan took the opportunity to have their photo taken with Jan.

Michigan Day 2009

American flags and Post/Auxiliary flags from across the state of Michigan at the VFW National Home. Photos by Dann Todd

VFW Post 823 and our Post 823 Auxiliary displayed their respective colors during a recent visit to the VFW National Home For Children located in Eaton Rapids, MI. July 26th was this the date for this year's Michigan Day at the National Home. Post Quartermaster Dann Todd, Auxiliary President Shelly Todd, and Auxiliary Secretary Millie Boylan made the short trip to participate in this year's Michigan Day events.

They toured two of the 36 single family dwellings maintained for use by children of our nation's veterans that have no place else to go. There were games and other activities being played on the lawn surrounding the community center.

Before lunch, the assembled VFW and Auxiliary members were treated to singing by the National Home Choir. Several thousand dollars were raised due to the generous donations from VFW Posts and Auxiliaries across the state of Michigan. The 2008-2009 Buddy Poppy Child, Marie Strefling, was on hand to help host the festivities.

Plaque photo by Dann Todd

During their tour, the group discovered this place in honor of Ashley Beck. Ashley was the Supreme Commander of the Military Order of the Cootie in 1941 when the ball field construction was completed and the field was dedicated.

Post 823 has had a lengthy relationship with the National Home. It was Post 823 member Corey Spencer that originally donated 472 acres of farmland located near Eaton Rapids in 1924.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

VFW 823 Auxiliary Member Profiled In Local Paper

Congratulations to VFW Post 823 Auxiliary member Millie Lairson. Millie was recently profiled by the Jackson Citizen Patriot. She came to the CitPat's attention due to her years of volunteer service to the Jackson community. Unmentioned in the article were Millie' hundreds if not thousands of hours spent working on behalf of the Veterans of Foreign Wars over the years. Work that continues to this day.

Congratulations to Millie! Thanks for all your efforts on behalf of our community and our veterans.

When Mildred Lairson retired from Jacobson's Stores, people began asking her to volunteer. Twenty-two years later she's still saying yes.

"I like to volunteer," the 85-year old Jackson resident said. "People need it, and they appreciate it."

Monday, August 17, 2009

T-shirt Fundraiser

VFW Post 823 is selling t-shirts to raise much needed funds for our continuing operations. Unfortunately, the availability of these shirts means that we do not have a lot of time to solicit orders.

The t-shirts are pre-washed black cotton. Each shirt will have the POW/MIA emblem shown below across the back. The left chest of the shirt will include a smaller POW/MIA emblem along with the name of our Post.

VFW Post 823 and Auxiliary members that are interested in ordering a shirt should plan on attending our next meeting on September 3rd at 6:30 PM. The shirts should be available early in October 2009.

VFW National Convention Broadcast

VFW members that could not attend this year's national convention in Arizona can still witness the events as they transpire. Simply go to the VFW national website and you will see live streaming video from the floor.

On Monday, this Internet broadcast presented speeches by the Governor of Arizona, a Russian general who has been pivotal in gaining access to Soviet era documents regarding American POWs, and US President Barack Obama.

Charity Bingo

Millie Lairson, Connie Kearns, and Millie Boylan with residents of the John George Home. Photo by Dann Todd

Each month, the members of VFW Post 823 and the members of the Post 823 Auxiliary visit the John George Home in Jackson, MI to put on a bingo game for the residents of the home. The residents of the John George Home are elderly gentlemen. The home provides a private room, meals, and constant medical care as directed by a physician.

Our monthly bingo games are just one of the many activities that the resident's enjoy on a regular basis. We look forward to our time at the John George Home every month.

Seen in the photo above with four residents of the home are Post 823 Auxiliary members Millie Lairson, Connie Kearns, and Millie Boylan.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Patriot's Pen

Jackson area junior high school students are invited to participate in the VFW's 'Patriot's Pen' essay competition. Interested students in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades should prepare a typed 300-400 word essay on this year's theme 'When is the Right Time to Honor Our Military Heroes?' Essays from Jackson area students are due to VFW Post 823 no later than November 1, 2009. For further entry information, including an entry application, please visit the VFW's national web site.

Winners from the local VFW Post 823 competition are then eligible to compete at the District level. The competition extends to the state and national levels with the national winner receiving a savings bond for $10,000. A total of $91,000 in savings bonds will be awarded at the national level. Winners at the state level also receive and all-expenses-paid trip to Washington D.C. as a part of the national competition.

Essays should be sent to the following address to be delivered on or before November 1, 2009:

Donald L. Wheeler Jr. Post 823
Veterans of Foreign Wars
P.O. Box 316
Michigan Center, MI 49254

The contacts for this competition are Post 823 Patriot's Pen/VoD chair Dann Todd and Post 823 Auxiliary President Shelly Todd. Both may be reached at 517-764-7821.


You can now download the Patriot's Pen student entry application that includes the VFW 823 contact information from this location. Caution, this is a 4Mb file.

Voice of Democracy

It is time once again for Jackson area high school students to prepare their submissions to the VFW's 'Voice of Democracy' essay competition. Students in grades 9 through 12 are invited to prepare an essay on this year's theme 'Does America Still Have Heroes?' Essays from Jackson area students are due to VFW Post 823 no later than November 1, 2009. Judging for the local area competition will be done on or shortly after that date.

Essays are to be submitted as a voice recording made by the student. For further entry information, including an entry application, please visit the VFW's national web site.

The winner of the Post 823 competition will be submitted to the VFW's District 6 of Michigan. The winner from District 6 will be sent to the VFW's Department of Michigan competition. The winner from the Department of Michigan will compete with winners from every state of the Union as well as from VFW Departments in Europe and Asia for the $30,000 scholarship award. A total of $141,000 in scholarships will be awarded at the national competition. Including prizes awarded at the local Post, District, and Department levels, over $2.5 million is given to participants each year.

Winners at the state level are also given an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington D.C. Traditionally, one of the features of the trip is a visit by the President of the United States.

Essays should be sent to the following address to be delivered on or before November 1, 2009:

Donald L. Wheeler Jr. Post 823
Veterans of Foreign Wars
P.O. Box 316
Michigan Center, MI 49254

The contacts for this competition are Post 823 Patriot's Pen/VoD chair Dann Todd and Post 823 Auxiliary President Shelly Todd. Both may be reached at 517-764-7821.


You can now download the Voice of Democracy student entry form complete with the Post 823 contact information from this location.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Picking Up Flags

Once again we arrive at that time of the year when we must pick up the flags that were placed on veteran's graves. We will be meeting at 10 AM on September 6th at the Mt. Evergreen Cemetery located on Greenwood in Jackson. We will pick up all of the flags we put out last spring before Memorial Day.

Please come on out as many hands make for light work.

Post Officer Needed

Post 823 is now in need of an officer. Our Senior Vice Commander has resigned that post. Our Junior Vice, Comrade Bob Hamel, is now our Senior Vice. That leaves us without a Junior Vice Commander.

Any Post 823 member in good standing is eligible. If you are interested, please attend our next meeting on September 3rd at the American Legion Rose City Post 324 located on Falahee in Michigan Center.