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By Linda Emley
The 7th Annual Veteran’s Appreciation Picnic is now history but I want to share some of the highlights of the day for everyone who wasn’t able to join us.
After several people spent two days getting the museum yard looking perfect, it rained and our picnic was moved to the Eagleton Center. I was disappointed that we didn’t get to have it at the museum, but we packed up all the food and headed down the hill to get Eagleton ready.
Carol Proffitt and Hal Middleton stayed on the hill and kept the museum open. They spent the day giving tours to some of the folks that were in town for the class reunions and sending people down to Eagleton for the picnic.
I spent several hours Friday night getting all the food and drinks ready. When we moved everything to Eagleton, a few items got left behind and I had to make a few trips back up the hill to the museum to pick up things I had forgotten, like coffee.
Anytime we have a party, I always worry about having enough help, but I was very happy Saturday to see we had a good crew that helped us make the party a success.
Once I get in party mode, I try to make our events fun. I’ve added one tradition that always seems to help make it more interesting. As we are getting ready, I solicit the crew and see how many people they think are going to show up. I always aim high and one of our regular crew members always takes the low side. Everyone else gets to fill in the blanks in between.
I chose 110 people for this picnic and I’m happy to report that I won the bet because we had 118 people walk through the doors at Eagleton.
Mike Shane opened the picnic by blessing our meal. While we were serving the food, the band played on. We were very lucky to have Shadetree Entertainment playing for us. Justin “Spudd” Richards and Sandy Myerchin always do a wonderful job. Florence Williams added her special touch as she played guitar with them.
After the meal, Ray County Historical Society President David Blyth took the stage and got the program rolling. Jared Richards sang the national anthem and did a fantastic job. Jared is Spudd Richards’ brother, so we could tell that musical talent runs in their family.
Mike Shane was our guest speaker and as always did a wonderful job. He was followed by Jim Rippy, who told about some of the services that are offered for veterans.
I want to give a special thanks to everyone who helped make our event a success. The historical society board members who helped were David Blyth, Steve Roush, Don Farlow, Mac Profitt, Carol Proffitt and Bruce Taylor. Each year we are assisted by our Ray County Commission, Bob King, Mike Twyman and Allen Dale. Mike’s wife Tracie also helped with serving the food. We also had help from a few friends, Christal Milligan and the McDermid family, Ron, Tab and their son Jacob. Jacob added a special touch this year by taking drink orders and personally delivering drinks to all our guests. He was one very busy boy.
Thanks to our musical guests, Sandy Myerchin, Florence Williams, Spudd Richards and his brother Jared. We can’t forget our guest speaker Mike Shane, “Thanks again Mike”. And finally we have to give a big “thank you” to Bruce Taylor and Allen Dale, who cooked all our hamburgers, hot dogs and Polish sausages. As we were all safe and dry inside Eagleton, they were outside in the rain cooking over a hot grill.
Because of the rain, our six new flags didn’t get to be honored the way we had hoped they would. We’ve had several people drive by the museum looking at them, so I think it’s OK to go ahead and tell everyone what six flags we chose to fly on the hill. The first flag is our “Old Glory”, which is the only flag we have flown on the hill since I arrived a few years ago. The other five flags are the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. I think our flags are a perfect way to honor all veterans and anyone that is still serving in our military. There was some discussion about leaving out the Coast Guard and adding the Missouri Flag, but the comment was made that the Coast Guard is important to Ray County because its job is to patrol the Missouri River that flows past our county.
The six flags were donated by our local chapter of the American Legion, so I want to give them a big thank you for their gift.
Richmond has a American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, which work together and share the Ray County Veterans Memorial Building. It is the home of the American Legion Griffith-Skiles Post #237 and The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #4398. The local American Legion has over 260 members and the VFW has 165.
So what is the difference between these two veterans groups? The VFW has roots that go back to 1899 and was originally formed to help veterans from the Spanish-American War. VFW membership is available to all U.S. citizens who were honorably discharged from the armed forces and earned an overseas campaign medal.
The American Legion was chartered in 1919 by Congress as a patriotic veterans organization and it has the same goal of helping veterans. To be eligible for an American Legion membership, an individual must be on active duty, serving honorably, anywhere in the world, or have served honorably during any of the following eligible war eras: April 6, 1917 to Nov. 11, 1918 (World War I); Dec. 7, 1941 to Dec. 31, 1946 (World War II); June 25, 1950 to Jan. 31, 1955 (Korean War); Feb. 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975 (Vietnam War); Aug. 24, 1982 to July 31, 1984 (Lebanon/Grenada); Dec. 20, 1989 to Jan. 31, 1990 (Panama); Aug. 2, 1990 to today (Gulf War/ War On Terrorism).
Since this was our Veteran’s Appreciation Picnic, I think we should end this story with a big thank you to all the veterans that came to share the day with us. It was nice to see many of them wearing hats to honor the branch of the service they proudly served.
Veteran’s Day is just around the corner, so mark your calendars now for Nov. 11. Please come join us as we honor our veterans at the Ray County Courthouse. I have attended this service for the past several years and it’s always an honor to stand side by side with my fellow Ray Countians on our courthouse lawn. I hope to see you there.rd