Milestone anniversary fosters new hope for veterans

February 8, 2011

By Lindsey Hall

Gathered for their regular meeting on Jan. 18, members of the Issaquah Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post No. 3436, drank coffee, traded stories and conducted business as usual.

Yet despite the routine atmosphere, this was no ordinary day.

Exactly 75 years earlier, the original founders of the Albert Larson Post signed the VFW charter, establishing one of Issaquah’s most historic organizations, which has been serving the city ever since.

“They formed 75 years ago, but are still going strong,” said Richard Whipple, the adjutant and quartermaster of the Department of Washington. “The recognition lets them know they’ve done a fantastic job.”

At the meeting, Whipple presented the post with a 75th anniversary certificate, known as the Diamond Jubilee Award. It’s an honor only a select group of posts have achieved, yet the local VFW members said they’re simply doing their duty to help the community.

“As far as a special recognition of the anniversary … we didn’t do that,” Issaquah’s Post Commander Steve Johnson said. “It was nice to get the 75th certificate, but a report from a Boy Scouts troop that needed help and got it is just as fun to listen to. It’s just a part of our daily purpose.”

Not surprisingly, the VFW members are focusing on the future while still respecting the work of the past three-quarters of a century.

“It’s about staying involved and supporting those that need help,” Johnson said.

Echoing the commander’s outlook, Assistant Quartermaster Dave Waggoner said he looks at the past as a positive prediction of what’s to come.

“After all the generations and all the wars, we’re still here,” he said. “And hopefully, we will continue to be here.”

The VFW members hope that through their various programs, such as those supporting schools, senior citizens and other community service groups, they will continue to take care of veterans and foster patriotism within the community.

And unlike other posts around the country struggling to find new members, the Alfred Larson Post boasts nearly 100 members, several of whom are now recent war veterans.

“We have a couple young guys,” Johnson said. “They’re the guys who were in Desert Storm, the Iraq war and now Afghanistan. Those are the guys who will be around for the 100th anniversary.”

Ultimately, the veterans of the Issaquah post seek to carry on the comradeship and community service the VFW offers the community.

“It was both men and women … and these guys saw the city change,” Waggoner said. “They served our country, came home, paid taxes and raised families. We can’t forget what they gave us. It’s the legacy and the city they helped build.”

Lindsey Hall is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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