There’s a difference between the United States Armed Forces and militaries of the rest of the world, according to Sen. Robert “Tommy” Tomlinson.
“Our veterans just want to come home,” he said. “They just want to come back to their community and build their community.”
A positive example of what can happen when a veteran returns to familiar ground is VFW Post 9765 (R. Keith Anderson Memorial Post), located at 4269 Linden Ave., Trevose, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this month.
“They come back and they start organizations, they sponsor little leagues, they sponsor scouting. All they want to do is come back, buy a home, get a job, raise a family and support their communities,” Tomlinson said. “And that’s what VFWs have done throughout the years.”
Tomlinson, along with Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, Rep. Gene DiGirolamo and Bensalem Mayor Joseph DiGirolamo, joined the veterans of Post 9765 on Veterans Day, Monday, Nov. 11, for a special ceremony to commemorate this milestone.
Founded in 1949, Post 9765 is currently manned by Commander Albert JR Kinney, who led attendees in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
“Seventy years ago, a number of veterans from this area got together to sign a charter to form Post 9765. Among the original charter members were Jacob Wilson, a 70-year-old who was the only Spanish War veteran that signed the charter; Barney Lavin, the only WWI veteran to sign the charter; and the only black person, Jeremiah Bussey, to sign the charter,” Kinney said. “We have a long history from way back – 70 years – and I am so proud to be the commander at this time with all the history that it holds.”
Kinney welcomed to the podium Col. William Griffin, a close friend with whom he deployed to Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq. Griffin is an A-10 pilot, commander of the 111 Attack Wing in Horsham, and has served the country for 29 years.
“This is a slice of Americana. This stuff is happening all around this country, and for that I say ‘thanks’ to everyone who keeps these VFW posts going and everybody who volunteers their time and effort,” he said.
Relatives of the following charter members were called one by one to receive a plaque and white flower: Ralph Carson, Edmund Cowdrick, Harry Crawford, William Poynor, John Zadareky and Charles, Frank and Frederick Weidmann.
Guests heard from Rep. DiGirolamo, who thanked the veterans for making the United States the “absolute greatest nation in the history of the world.”
“I tell our children this all the time – we are so lucky and we are so fortunate because every day that we wake up and put our feet on the ground, we are living in the United States of America. How lucky we are. The credit for that belongs to the men and women who have served this country and protected us for all these years,” he said.
Fitzpatrick shared his sentiment, explaining how veterans don’t just fight for our nation, they fight for the “idea” of America and all that it stands for. He also stressed that Veterans Day holds an important message for children.
“If you put on our nation’s uniform and you defend our nation in our time of need, our nation will take care of you and your families for the rest of your lives,” he said.
Mayor DiGirolamo, who said it seems only yesterday he was helping Post 9765 celebrate its 50th anniversary, reflected on his adolescent years growing up by the river in Bensalem during World War II. Though U.S. Marshals would pace the waterfront in search of enemy submarines, seeing them made him feel safe.
“Every day is Veterans Day to me,” he said.
Kinney, on behalf of Post 9765, was presented citations from Bensalem Township and the state House of Representatives and Senate, and a flag from Fitzpatrick that was flown over the U.S. Capitol.
Citations were also given to 96-year-old Vincent Kutys, the only living WWII veteran of Post 9765.
After the ceremony, all were invited inside to enjoy camaraderie and a complimentary lunch.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org