September is a month of much activity; from kids first days of school, Labor Day, and Grandparents Day, to the solemn days of Patriot Day on the 11th and Yom Kippur on the 27th. These days of Summer, moving into Autumn, are usually my favorite days of the year……..usually. This year has been such a strange one to say the least. The fires in Oregon, California, and the devastation here in our own state of Washington, have now brought memories of Iraq and Afghanistan to mind with the "chewy air” we must endure. I pray for those that are adversely affected by these devastating fires, and hope that you all, as members of the VFW, reach out to your membership in your Posts to give a hand, help with relief funds, or even host a fundraiser for those in your community in need. My Post is actually hosting "Community Dinners & Breakfasts” every week. I know that a homeless lady that sleeps in our neighborhood park is one that gets a home cooked meal from us, delivered by yet another neighbor that delivers it to her. Just showing our neighbors that we are here, and that we care, breaks that thought of us just being a group that meets at a smokey bar to tell war stories. REACH OUT and help one another!
Our mission is so important that we can’t lose focus. We have to remember what that total mission is. It’s not just youth essays, or supporting VMS, although they are important too; we have the mission of "remembering our dead, while helping the living.” I’m saying this because I was just reminded of this important part of our mission. Sometimes I get so "focused” on dates to complete certain things, or "checking the box” that I sometimes forget what other parts of our "mission statement” say. I received an email from my counterpart in Hawaii, who has first hand access to DPAA (Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency), giving me a "heads up” that one of our own is on his way home, finally. A USS Oklahoma Sailor from Yakima named Patrick L Chess. Patrick, 24 years of age, was a Navy Shipfitter 3rd Class, assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. On 7 December 1941, the ship sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Chess. January 9th of this year, Patrick Chess was identified through DNA and dental records. He will be laid to rest in October.
THIS is why we’re here…….. not this alone, but because of these ultimate sacrifices, we MUST maintain focus on our FULL mission. Just knowing that there are individuals working day in and day out so one of our lost can come home to rest, and his family can have peace knowing he’s home, gives me goosebumps.
Please, Commanders, make sure you read/recite Section 230102 of the Congressional Charter right after your Post’s opening ceremony. It says right there what we are to do, "……to perpetuate the memory and history of our dead, and to assist their surviving spouses and orphans…” I thank those Honor Guard members who spend hours at our Cemeteries conducting the last honor a Service Member will receive, with dignity and respect.
SF3 Chess; you are not forgotten, and welcome home, brother…… welcome home.
The Department of Washington VFW has teamed up with National Auto Body Council to support the Recycled Rides program. The Recycled Rides program is a unique endeavor that has been fulfilling this need since 2007 with over 2500 vehicles having been gifted. Insurers, car rental companies, collision repairers, paint suppliers, parts vendors and others collaborate to repair and then donate vehicles to deserving individuals chosen by recognized nonprofit 501(c)(3) charities that provide services and work directly with at-risk families and individuals in local communities throughout the country. The process is one where a damaged but repairable vehicle is donated (usually by an insurance company or car rental agency), a NABC™ member auto body collision shop volunteers to repair it, seeking donations from their local vendors, and then the vehicle is presented to a recipient carefully chosen by the charity or in some cases, to the charity itself. This gift of a vehicle may elevate a family to a new level of economic independence.
If you, or someone you know, would be a good fit for this program please be sure to get the attached application in no later than September 18th, 2020.