BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – With Sunday’s charity breakfast literally in the bank, the Fort Madison American Legion Post will now send eight local veterans to D.C.
As part of the Great River Honor Flight program, the American Legion Post 82 raised $3,200 between 8 a.m. and noon Sunday to help foot the bill for the trip.
Dan Vice, the post commander, said the program buses veterans to Quincy where another bus will take them to St. Louis where they catch a flight to Washington D.C.
“They go to all the memorials, the memorials for the Vietnam and Korean conflicts, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, they get to see all those things,” he said.
“People are familiar with that aspect of the program, but what they don’t know as much about is the motorcycle motorcade that takes place on the trip home. It starts in Bowling Green and there will be people lining the streets and cheering and waving and just giving them a nice welcome home. It gives them some real closure.”
Vice said that’s one of the most emotional parts of the trip.
“When veterans got back from World War I and World War II they were greeted with celebrations and parades. But the veterans of the Korean and Vietnam conflicts didn’t get the same reception. We’re just trying to make sure they get that recognition. The saying is “All Gave Some and Some Gave All” and that’s pretty much what these veterans have done,” he said.
At Sunday’s breakfast it was common for people eating to make the recommended donation of $7 for adults and then write another check or give additional cash for the veterans.
It was such a success that the RiverFest committee has already asked the post to host the charity breakfast again in 2018.
“We were invited again by Charles and Jenny to go ahead and come back and do that event again,” Vice said. “We’re pleased with that because all we’re trying to do is make the community and the area aware of what were doing and why were doing it.”
“We’ve got quite a few veterans around here who need help and they aren’t getting it from the (Veteran’s Administration). We’re stepping up to help them. A lot can’t afford to go to DC to see their memorial.”
Vice said Velma Bogart of Fort Madison has purchase a full seat in honor of a family member who was killed in action in Vietnam in 1967.
Vice said other fundraisers throughout the year provide necessary monies to help with the other assistance the post gives.
Last year the post did a fundraiser through the Eagles and we raised more than $16,000. Lee County Bank, Connections Bank, Eagles, Siemens were all very big contributors last year. This year Kohl’s Wholesale jumped in to help too, but Fareway was the biggest sponsor in addition to Lee and the biggest contributor this year was Fareway.
“They supplied 3/4 of the supplies we needed Sunday so hats off to them. I guess they really do believe in helping out the veterans,” he said.
Anyone wishing to donate to the Post or the honor flight program can send donations earmarked for Great River Honor Flight or the post to Dan Vice, 30 Florence Drive, Fort Madison, 52627.