Old Glory flies once again in front of post office
By Ken Childers
On Independence Day, the day “Old Glory” should be painting the breeze, the flags flying near the front of the Okemah Post Office as well as the local fire station were reported as stolen.
The alleged perpetrator, who reportedly suffers from mental illness, was apprehended in Seminole and taken to the Veteran’s Administration Hospital for treatment.
The flag pole at the post office was not bannerless for very long, thanks to local members of the country’s largest veterans service organization.
The Reynolds-Harjo post of the American Legion, based in Okemah, quickly sprang into action and purchased a new American flag to fly at the postal service building.
Not only is the post office a federal building, the grounds are somewhat sacred for Legion members. The local post sponsors the Okfuskee County Veterans Monument, which is located just west of the post office. The monument, installed Nov. 17, 1982, features granite displays plus bricks with the names of veterans engraved on them. The United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps are all represented.
One of the monuments has a cross on the top and is engraved with the following scripture: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13). Wars memorialized include the Persian Gulf war, Panama Lebanon/Grenada, Vietnam, Korea, WWII and WWI.
The American Legion was founded in March 1919 in Paris, France, by U.S. World War I military personnel stationed there who were dedicated to four pillars of service and advocacy: veterans, military personnel, youth and patriotic values.
Today, the Legion consists of 55 “departments” in each of the 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, France, Mexico, the Philippines and Puerto Rico. There are approximately 13,000 local posts worldwide.
Current national membership stands at about two million. Combined with the American Legion Auxiliary and Sons of The American Legion, membership in what is known as the American Legion Family exceeds three million.
American Legion membership is open to military personnel and veterans who have served on active duty during wartime. Eligibility has been open to all who have served on active duty since Aug. 2, 1990, the beginning of continuous U.S. armed conflict in the Middle East and other locations around the planet.