Letters and Speeches

Letter to Commander Klingensmith

 

 

 

 

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 Commander Klingensmith,

It was nice of you to stop at our Legion Feather party on your way to Ringsted. But you didn't stay around so I could show you our Avenue of Flags or our display cases with our veterans pictures or the display cases that have pictures showing things that our legion has done, like run a new sidewalk for one of our veterans that is in a wheelchair so his wife can get him to the car, and the pictures of the legionaries taking on the task of running blocks of cement streets to improve our town, or the pictures of the legion and the school kids putting on a program in support of Desert Storm, or the ones of our S.A.L. putting on Farm Safety class at the school.

Your trip wasn't wasted even though I didn't get to show you those other things. In the brief visit we did have you didn't fail to remind me that we were behind in our membership sent in, I appreciate that, after all that is the most important thing our legion has to do. I can tell that this is very important because at the last D.E.C. meeting it was membership that took up the majority of time. I've been to several D.E.C. meetings and all have spent the majority of time on membership. I made a special trip to Sioux City to visit with Robert Craig about Arnolds Park and our Department Commander (Bill Wilsbacher) interrupted our meeting to chew Bob out about membership. The ninth District must have been way behind in membership because the Commanders language got so bad my family had to leave. At our meeting at Milford that was attended by the Department Commander,  9th Commander, 9th Vice, Revitalization Chairman, and other "Big Wigs",  we were supposed to talk about saving Arnolds Park Legion but the conversation quickly turned to Membership.

I'm sick and tired of hearing about membership. If our state and District officers would provide us with good leadership we wouldn't have to worry about membership. The way everyone talks about membership I feel like we are at war and membership is the enemy. Every time I go to a D.E.C. meeting or get a call from someone in the 9th District they want to know the body count. Well in war there are two kinds or officers. The first officer is a leader and is respected by his men. He is the first one out of the fox hole saying to his men "follow me men". The second kind of officer sticks his head out of his fox hole, yells at his men to get into the battle and get him some body count, then returns to his fox hole. Iowa has too many of the second type of officers and I'm tired of getting pushed into battle.

Let me give you some of my ideas on how the American Legion should be run to get and keep members and post.

1.  Hire people at the state level that are upbeat and enthusiastic about taking on new projects, people willing to get out and help with these projects.

 2. Make a series of VCR tapes to be used for recruiting. One dealing with patriotism and the Legion, a tape that makes us proud to be an American and Legion member. One on what the Legion does for veterans. One on what Legion members have done for communities, States and America. Any tape appealing to our patriotism will work, most veteran would serve their county again if asked.      

 3.The state and each district should have its own snappy Drill Team and Color Guard to participate in centennial parades and any town parade.  A sharp drill team will  bring back memories and pride in veterans. It will impress the general public, without their support the legion can't survive.

 4. S.A.L.- Send someone to the Legions to tell them about S.A.L.. A lot of Legions I have talked to have never heard of it. I believe it is one of the best things that ever happened to    our Legion. It's great to see a father taking pride in things like how to handle the rifle properly in the color guard. It brings back memories that he shares with his son bringing father and son closer together. The S.A.L. is to our Legion like an IV is to a man bleeding   to death, it pumps life giving blood back into the system.

 5. Hire someone that is a dynamic speaker and good with people. Have him go to Legions giving upbeat speeches about patriotism and the Legion, make the Legionaries feel good about themselves and their Legion, tell them what a good job they are doing and how important they are.

There are a lot of things the Legion could do if our officers were willing to provide us with leadership instead of standing behind us pushing us into battle. If our officers don't get out of their fox holes within  ten years Iowa will have many Ghost Legions, they won't turn in their charter but they won't be active and membership will fade away. Only quick and decisive leadership will have a chance at preventing this.

 

 

School Speech

 

Fifty years have past since the bombs fell on Pearl Harbor costing America 2,403 dead and 1,178 wounded. This act awakened a sleeping giant and brought the United States into the war, a war that would take almost every available young male in Terril from his family and cost more than 50 million lives in Europe alone, many in individual circumstances of horrifying cruelty.

Thirty-five of the 1250 men who went to World War II from Dickinson County gave their lives that this nation might continue to be free. The total casualty list of Iowa's known dead is 7259. Dickinson County's list is small in comparison but according to population figures at the time, we more than gave our share.

The first Dickinson County casualty of WW II was Everett Titterington from Milford, he died Dec. 7 1941 on the USS Oklahoma. Terril's first death of the war was when Lieut. Maurice Miller died in an airplane accident in the Pacific Ocean Dec. 11, 1941.

TERRILS' GOLD STARS

PVT. JOHN ANDERSON      MAY 14, 1945       IN GERMANY

S. SGT ROBERT CHRISTENSON\; FEB 1944\; WINDOVER, UTAH

S. SGT LEROY CRUSE\; MAY 1944\; OVER FRANCE

PVT. ROGER CUSHMAN\; FEB 1945\; IN GERMANY

S. SGT DALE ENDERSON\; OCT 1944\; NEAR BORNEO

PFC. BERNARD GROW\; 1944\; IN JAPAN\;  BATTAN  DEATH  MARCH

CLYDE HARRINGTON

SGT ALBERT KAHLER\; AUG 1944\; IN FRANCE

LIEUT MAURICE MILLER\; DEC 11 1942\; OFF COAST OF PORTO RICO

SEAMAN 2ND CLASS LEONARD MOORE\; AUGUST 1942\; REPORTED MISSING

PFC KENNETH MC COY\; MAY 1945\; OKINAWA

PVT MILTON SIMPSON\; SEPT 1944\; IN FRANCE

CAPT RALPH WADE\; APRIL 23, 1944\; SHICH HOSP, WASHINGTON

SEAMAN 2ND CLASS JERRY WYLAND\; MAY 1945\; SOUTH PACIFIC

 

 

 

Veterans Day Speech

 

I would like to thank the seniors and all of you for inviting us here today. This means a lot to us veterans and we are very proud to live in a town that has such fine young people.

I think that it is important that you understand who and what a veteran is and why Veterans Day is important. When I'm done I hope you will understand a little better what some veterans had to go through.

Last year you will remember I read the names of the veterans that died in WW II and told you some about Bernard Grow, a 1932 graduate of Terril that was on the Bataan Death March. I told you how the Japanese kept 12,000 men in an area the size of our football field in 110 degree heat with only one water faucet. Marched them days on end without water and food and then beheaded anyone that could not keep up with the rest of the men.

Well, today I would like to tell a little about another veteran, Leroy Cruse. Leroy graduated from Terril in 1933, one year after Bernard Grow.

How many of you have seen the movie the Memphis Bell?

Well I have Leroy Cruse's diary and his story is a lot like that movie, with one difference, he didn't live.

The Memphis Bell was a movie about the first B17 crew to live through 25 missions. The British had taken a pretty bad beating before we entered the war and we wanted to bomb Germany round the clock, the Americans were assigned the more dangerous job of bombing the Germans during the day while the British bombed during the night. Bombing the Germans during the day was so dangerous that our government decided that crews that lived through 25 missions would be sent back to the United States for easier duty. The crew of the Memphis Bell was the first crew to make it to 25 missions, but we had loss so many bomber crews that when Leroy had completed his 22 missions the government extended the number to 30 before he could go home.

I am only going to read a few parts of his diary. I will give it to the school to keep in the library for you to read. It is in his own hand writing but I have also typed it to make it easier to read. When you read this it is interesting to see the change in his attitude. At first he doesn't think there is any way he will make it 25 missions. Then he might make it, then he thinks he has a good chance of making it.

It is because of veterans like Sgt. Leroy Cruse that we honor veterans on Veterans Day and we appreciate you doing this for us today.  

Thank you

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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