90th Anniversary Weekend

Today, our bodies are tired, our hearts are full, and the memories are on overload with the people we’ve known and lost from our VFW Post 2503. Anniversaries and Birthday remembrances always bring those memories forward. Our events, well attended, ran smoothly. If anyone left hungry, it was their fault!

Preparation for this weekend of events began over a year ago. The Quartermaster, Dan Raabe, suggested we spruce the building up as part of our rebranding process. Why? To survive another 90 years, we need to include young families, younger male and female veterans, and expand our focus to serve veterans more ways.

We have assembled a team of people who play separate critical functions to support our veterans. We have embarked on missions with Moving Veterans Forward, Guitars for Vets, and the 50 Mile March Foundation. The next logical step to support is a most critical one. The area of veteran suicide prevention. Planning is underway to expand our outreach. We will welcome volunteers when the expansion is underway. More on this in the future.

Saturday evening, we hosted speakers, remembrances of old uniforms, memorabilia, and members filled our Honor Room (formerly called the South Room). Music followed. We unveiled our custom-labeled Patriot Red and Freedom White wines. We also had the VFW logo etched onto 20 ounce glasses as another memento of the occasion. A former member who transferred away visited and transferred back to our Post.

We are proud of the compliments on our updated rooms, our attendance, and our plans for the future. We are most proud of our members and volunteers. They make all the difference in the world. Looking forward to another 90 years. Enjoy the photos of the weekend. Thank you for reading. Videos posted separately, on VFW Post 2503 FB page.

Friday Fun/Saturday Plans

Friday evening, we attended the kickoff for the weekend of fun and celebrating the 90th Anniversary of the VFW Post 2503. Blessings abound with this celebration. A small group of plucky veterans from WWI and their wives, smack in the middle of the depression, started a branch of the national VFW organization. It yielded the VFW Post 2503 and the VFW Post 2503 Auxiliary. There was a heyday in the 60s where the place packed them in every Friday and Saturday nights. We have met children of older members who “grew up in the place, playing shuffleboard.” The adult kids have wonderful memories of the events and friendships.

Things changed. In the time we’ve been active members, many of the older folks have passed away. We miss our friends. We’ve met many good people and enjoy friendships with them. It’s also a lot of hours, time spent, and learning new ways to help Veterans.

Engaging in war has changed dramatically since WWI. Combat soldiers are now male and female. PTS(D) is a recognized condition that needs to be dealt with. We are losing too many of our military brothers and sisters. 22 a day is the estimated number of Veterans who commit suicide each day in the United States. This is unacceptable. We can do more to assist and support them. Their training teaches them how t fight, kill, rebuild cities and infrastructure. We do not train them how to quell their demons or re-join society. Alcohol and drugs do not help the issues, they just become another layer of issues masking the actual issues.

One of our members is smoking brisket (100 pounds of it!) for the Post’s Anniversary Dinner later. After dinner, entertainment by our friend, Jimmy Weber is on the agenda. It’ll be great to see him, have dinner, and listen to his band for a few hours. I see a lot of friendship revivals happening this weekend. It’s the stuff celebrations exist for.

We’ll share the highlights tomorrow, and also talk about our first Car Show for the summer. It is also a day for breakfast, so the joint is jumping all weekend! Take care, see you tomorrow.

Sunday Morning

Today, we are hosting Air Force Veteran Jay Miralles, as he podcasts from our VFW Post 2503. The topic is military service. We have eleven people scheduled today. Our mission began about zero dark thirty. Pretty early for a Sunday, but between the coffee and Jay’s enthusiasm, I’m ready to take on the world!

In these times, we are seeing some of our national and local history changed to be friendlier, kinder, and vanilla. War and it’s effects on our soldiers cannot be sanitized. We aren’t asking the Veterans about things like body count, that is not the intent. There are other forums where you can view that.

We are interested in the people and their lives. Asking about Patriotism. They can talk about anything they want. We are avoiding topics that may be upsetting. Honor, Integrity, and Service are topics, as are what is one of your best memories of being taught a lesson? All our sons and daughters can reflect on their love of America, their belief in our military, and the mission they promote as veterans. I feel honored to see this interaction and these beliefs being lived every day.

Why volunteer here? Our friends Lenny and Kris invited us on a Hamburger Night, and the Babe became a member. He joined the Honor Guard and was asked to run for Quartermaster. He has done great things in the role, his business knowledge has been helpful. His suggestion to refresh the building’s rental rooms made a tremendous difference. The Canteen has yet to be refreshed as we look forward to the 90th Anniversary of existence.

Being an Auxiliary member is something I felt was necessary to show support to my husband. I didn’t realize as time went on the scope changed dramatically. Being the Webmaster is a challenge some days. This year, we will expand our social media presence, with more on Twitter and Instagram. I will also find a backup for that role, and rely on that person for more day to day work. There is always room for participation.

Working in the kitchen on a crew exposes you to some good people. We have some teams who have been together for years. One thing I’ve noticed here is deep friendships are not only possible but very probable. Everyone is welcome. It’s a place where widows feel comfortable to enter and leave at will. We watch out for each other. As we lose people, we make new friends and continue sharing the memories of our fallen comrades. I have a tshirt that reads:

Being a Wife is a Choice

Being the Wife of a Veteran

is a Privilege

As we continue this special day of interviewing and preserving important history, think about if you’d like to reach out into our community and help others. It’s a wonderful thing. And you will feel good making someone else’s life better. Let’s see each other tomorrow!

Veterans Day, 2021

Today is a day for our very special Veterans. All that we enjoy today is because of them and their sacrifices. The freedoms we enjoy are not seen in any other country. We are safer with them at the ready. They don’t think twice about it. Love of their country and freedom are what keep them at their posts. All six branches of the services combined create the well oiled machine that is the Military of the United States of America. Old Veterans would marvel at drone technology used today. I know my dad would. He’d want to work the darned things!

I’ve mentioned before the three photos my Grandma Jewell had in her living room. Each in a corner, either black and white or sepia finished, her three sons in their military uniforms. All handsome, young, trained, and ready to go. The patriotism the men of this era had is recounted in old war movies, songs, and the general mood of the times. Folks at home planted gardens to ease the burden of the grocery system at the time, so the troops would have what they needed. Mom recounted the shortages on toilet paper, soap, and other items like sugar. Everyone did their part. Could we do that now? I would hope, but many folks wouldn’t.

The message I took away from seeing those photographs subliminally at every visit sits deep in the fabric that is me. I cannot imagine life without that early exposure to the Patriots around me. All the men in our neighborhood and family served in the military. Of my three brothers, one was 4F, one not the right age during the draft, and one went to the reserves, at the time, the 915 Transportation Unit from Council Bluffs, Iowa. He would have gladly gone if called up.

My husband Dan served in Vietnam, many years before we met. It left him a haunted soul, like many of the young men who served there. My dad, after serving in WWII and Korea, told me once, “A jungle war is so different than a war fought in cities and towns. The mindset of the enemy is very different, too. The bottom line is, the enemy wants to kill you in whatever barbaric way they can.” He should know; he was in combat as a medic “aide.” They were on the battlefield, did not have weapons, and running to assess and aid the wounded. He was a surgical tech in the MASH tents of Korea. He saw the damages. And he was awarded two bronze stars. My dad, gentleman, loving father and grandfather, and quintessential bad ass. He was a quiet man, just went about his business, never wanting any attention. Many of our Veterans are the same way.

After having these experiences, it’s no wonder our troops have difficulty merging back into life at home. They are not the same as when they left. We need to find ways to help them adjust, and we need to adjust, too. Nothing is the same once they return home.

Recognizing that, we have an Art exhibit by Liz Boutin, and an information fair at the VFW Post 2503 today. The Post opens at noon, and we have lots of tables for you to visit with various agencies and groups for the Veterans. Guitars for Vets, Moving Veterans Forward, 22 Veteran Suicide Awareness Association from Council Bluffs, grief materials from Centering Corporation in Omaha, and some vendors. Come, have a great spaghetti meal between 4 – 7 p.m. and attend our Ceremony at 6 p.m. Corporal Daegan Page’s family will receive a special gift that was sent to us by a gentleman in Texas. I will share it with you tomorrow. It’s breath-taking.

Let us honor our keepers of freedom. Let us remember their sacrifices. We can never thank them enough.

VFW Post 2503/Car Show/And MORE!

Yes, I played hooky again yesterday. It was a busy day, with taking Mom to the doctor, and then getting her home so I could meet the fine folks from “Guitars for Vets, Omaha.” We met Daniel and David Mike (yes, they are guys with a first name for a last name). David is the Dad, Daniel the son.

It’s often said Omaha is just a big small town. And it’s true. Daniel went to Bellevue East High School, with our daughter- and son-in-law. He detoured via a career in the Military, taking him on four tours of Afghanistan. We know many of the same people, and they feel like familiar long-time friends already. The people we meet by volunteering! It’s enriched our life so much.

The VFW Post, at 90th & Military Road, in Omaha, Nebraska is sponsoring a Car Show on Sunday, May 2, 2021. Registration begins at 8 a.m. sharp! The actual show is free to the public and begins at NOON. We had over 110 cars last fall. We’re hoping to have as many this time. It’ll be perfect, out in the sunshine, people coming and going, raffles, and information for Veterans. There are so many who suffer from PTSD. It can be crippling. We want to raise awareness in the community of all the groups available to Veterans and their families. We will have representatives from:

Moving Veterans Forward

Guitars for Veterans, Omaha

Operation 22 til Freedom

Aside from getting to know these groups, we want to establish relationships and find out how we, as a VFW Post, can help them get their message out to those who need them and their services. Where there is great need, we can offer a hand. It’s what we’re here for. Local support. Veterans helping Veterans. It’s a beautiful thing to witness. I’m grateful for the opportunity.

Now, this is my personal blog for today.

#600 Club? Already?

How time flies! Today, this is my official 600th blog post. I’m finally on a roll! Things are coming along with the writing I’m doing. Just wish there were more productive hours in the day, I’m working on that. As we’ve chatted before, Family First, then I split the rest of my time writing/volunteering/reading/learning/etc.

Nearly two years ago, when I started this blog, I never had a clue I’d need to spend so much time learning and reading to become an author. To get the writing every day habit started, I blogged. Most of what I read talked about marketing yourself (hard for an Irish Catholic girl from South Omaha to do) and get your brand out there.

My brand? Well, that’s a tough one. I’m first a survivor of a lot of things. Breast Cancer. An unhappy marriage (first one). A “pioneer” woman in the 80s in I/T (or MIS or coding, or whatever you want to call it). I think my life as the only girl with three brothers toughened me up for working with mostly men, typical of the workers in that era.

Survivor. Wife. Mom. Grandma of 5. Sister, Daughter, Cousin, Loyal Friend. Author. Yes, Author, who always wanted to write a children’s book. After starting there, I have three separate drafts. The first, “ROXIE! What Are You Doing?” is about our Grandson Gavin and his life with Roxie, our naughty rescue dog.

The second, “Bonus Grandmas,” is about a little boy confused at the number of women in his life he calls “Grandma.” No one believes he really has that many Grandmas! But he does.

The third, “Grandpa’s Gone,” is a book for families. It recounts my real-life story that changed our extended family and our memories of Christmas Eve. When I was 12 years old, our Grandpa died of a heart attack at 60. On Christmas Eve. Grieving was hard in 1964, people didn’t talk about loss like we can now. This story recalls my memories of the Christmases that followed. And upon hearing a very special song about that very event, I learned we weren’t the only kids who experienced that kind of loss on such an important day.

I also have a novel in progress, “The Freeing of Katie Fitzgibbons.” A young woman marries, leaving home in 1970. The novel follows her through several years of an unfortunate marriage, growing up, and gaining the knowledge and confidence she needs to make the break for freedom.

Yes, we’re very busy here at Raabe Ranch, the home office of Jewell Publishing, LLC. Thank’s for staying with us through 600 posts. More to come! We appreciate your time and are eager to share more with you. Be Kind. Be Safe. Be Thoughtful. We will see you tomorrow!

Saturday, July 18, 2020

We’re leaving for the Post pretty soon, so I hope I do justice to this before we need to leave. Yesterday was the birthday of a very good friend of ours, Danny Lang. He was a Douglas County Deputy before retiring twenty years ago. He is a very loyal Honor Guard Member at the VFW. He attends nearly every funeral where they provide honors. He has trained many a new member and they almost always are perfectly synced with shooting, marching, salutes, and all they need.

Danny has become good friends with the Babe and me, too. He is a wealth of information, history, and all else. He is still living independently, and still driving. What a great guy. So the guys are surprising him with an impromptu birthday party today. He will be touched, I’m sure. His family is invited to stop by also. I’m looking forward to seeing his reaction since it’s a surprise. Shhhh!

Yesterday I had a good writing session. I have about 800 words for my new first chapter. I’m several years back in Katie’s life, about ten years earlier, to give a better flavor about how her life is. I’m learning to show, not tell. I have some homework due with Sam Tyler, my Writing Coach by Monday morning. I’ll get it finished by tomorrow evening. I think we’ll have a great session next week on Thursday. Lots to accomplish the rest of this month.

The Girls Are Doing a Little Light Reading.

No more lightning bugs for Goldie last night. She is a little shaken after watching a wild turkey in the neighbors house a few days ago. She did not like that creature at all, even from two houses away. This morning, her ball rolled under the raised dog bed we have on the deck, and she went behind it, near the railing to see if she could get it or not. She moved the bed out, but not enough. You could tell she was trying to work her way out of the situation. Another time, the ball rolled just under the railing, and hung on the edge of the plank. It didn’t fall, but she ran down the steps to see if she could find it. I hit the ball and it shot into the air, falling behind her. She jumped then proceeded to secure it firmly in her large mouth. Never a dull moment, for sure.

It feels as if the month is over, but there are still a couple weeks left, more or less. With all the discussion about school opening or not, it seems later. I hope whatever decisions the schools make, I hope it’s sound and I hope the kids are safe. Wearing a mask isn’t the worst thing that could happen. Sometimes I think the anxiety people have is self generated by not wanting to comply. Don’t put your fears and anxiety on your kids. Don’t put your reluctance to comply on your kids. You don’t want them ill. Period. You don’t want Grandpa to become ill, either.

Photo by Swapnil Sharma on Pexels.com

Although I can make masks, I ordered some premade ones from Ruby Ribbon. They’re a company who sells camisoles for women of all sizes and shapes that are pretty remarkable, especially for a breast cancer survivor like me. It helps keep the lymphedema at bay and provides a comfy fit even though I’m pretty lopsided after the lumpectomy. I don’t even think of it. Anyway, they are pretty colors, and thought if they were pretty, they might be less cumbersome to wear.

So as you’re enjoying your Saturday, please don’t overdo in the heat. The temp is 93 and the “feels like” is 102 already, at 12:23 p.m. Hydrate, use sunscreen, and check on your older folks who may not have A/C or use it properly. Be Kind, Be Courteous, Be Thoughtful. Be a good human to those around you. Thank you for reading today, I hope you have a great rest of the day. I’ll see you all tomorrow.