Closing in on 100 for American Legion Post 409
On March 16, members and guests gathered to pay tribute to the organization and honor one of its own.
The evening's festivities began with a salute to the colors, led by emcee Post 409 Commander George Stark. Heads were bared and hearts were covered during this patriotic moment that included everyone reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. The solemn POW/MIA Ceremony, which is exemplified by a table set just for one, also proved to be thought-provoking for veterans and civilians in attendance.
Following an Invocation provided by Rev. Michael Nace from the Correctional Facility, and dinner catered by M & L Catering, Cattaraugus County Commander Fran Ross Jr. read a birthday speech composed by the National American Legion. "Every day is Veterans' Day," according to the speech.
The speech also included the many programs and organizations that the American Legion supports, including the Boy Scouts, American Children's Network and Operation Comfort Warriors, while promoting patriotism throughout all their efforts. In essence, the Legion is based on supporting veterans, youth, national defense and Americanism.
Gowanda Mayor Heather McKeever then spoke, congratulating the Legion on its 94th birthday. "The American Legion does things not because it can, but because of what you are," she said.
After welcoming the representatives from all the various associated organizations (American Legion Sons, American Legion Ladies Auxiliary, AMVETS, AMVET Riders and AMVETS Auxiliary), Post 409 member Howard Witt was asked to stand.
Commander Stark and county Commander Ross joined Witt to shake his hand and proudly present him with a special Certificate of Recognition for his 70 years of continuous service as a member of Post 409. A round of applause accompanied the presentation, with Witt expressing his thanks to everyone.
Stark then "set the record straight" by stating "American Legion Post 409 is in excellent financial shape and growing." He reminded everyone to "please, please promote the Legion every chance you get."
A benediction by Rev. Nace and a rousing rendition of "God Bless America," with all voices raised, concluded this year's birthday party.