By Dianne Sudbrock
Thiemann-Tidd VFW Post 5651 in New Melle, celebrated their 45th anniversary along with honoring the memories of deceased veterans on Memorial Day, May 28, 2018.
The post was instituted Apirl 12, 1973 with 37 charter members. Four of the six remaining charter members were able to attend the ceremony: Richard Bruns, Arlie Schemmer, Orley Pherigo and James Hoefelmann. Charter members not present were Ernest Ellerman and Kenneth Wilson.
The ceremony began with the posting of colors by VFW Korean War Veterans and Boy Scout Troop 856, commanded by WW2 Veteran Reggie Hemmer.
The National Anthem was led by Julie Gust, and the Pledge of Allegiance was led by the scouts.
Post Chaplain, Jeff Schneider, gave an invocation and prayer reminding us of the gift of freedom we all enjoy, remembering those who gave all, so that we and future generations can continue to know life in a free and democratic society. "Remembering those who have passed is only half of the task. We must also carry their love, honor and duty forward to future generations. Our children must know who they were, what they did and why they did it. To do anything less would be a disservice to their sacrifice and their memories. Those that are gone created a pathway for us to continue on. We must never waiver from that path of freedom and democracy. We take their memories; we take their dreams; and walk forward shouldering the cause of freedom."
Ray Welge then gave an overview of the post's history. He talked about how "the Post" is not about the building. "It's about the people," he said. He mentioned numerous people and families whose time and dedication over the past 45 years contributed significantly to help make the Post what it is today. He also mentioned the Auxiliaries – 34 years of service from the VFW Ladies Auxiliary, 10 years of service from the men's auxiliary, and now ongoing service from the men's and Ladies' combined "VFW Auxiliary." Welge also shared a number of statistics. During the past 45 years, the post has held approximately 3000 steak nights/fish fries, BBQ, dinners, meat and trap shoots, and other fundraisers. Those funds were used to pay for and maintain the post home, for community support, school programs, flag decoration, troop support, charities and veterans programs. Members have participated in 800 military honors, flag raisings, and marched in many parades. Over 500,000 man hours have been volunteered and over $700,000 has been invested in these endeavors. The post hall has been host to numerous community and private functions for a nominal fee or no charge.
Welge said the post has been blessed with dedicated volunteers since its inception in 1973. Throughout its history, Post 5651 veterans and auxiliary members have distinguished themselves in both serving in (and/or supporting) the military, and as dedicated Americans. Today, the average age of post members is 72. Without the past and present auxiliaries the Post would not be able to continue, and he commended the auxiliary members for their time and dedication.
Next, a number of special awards and certificates of recognition were presented. First, 45 year pins and patches were presented to the charter members mentioned above.
Cornelius Gloth, Ray Welge, and Reggie Hemmer were recognized for performing Military Honors 600, 450, and 400 times respectively. (Photo #2 L-R Ray, Cornelius, Reggie and Post Commander Frank Astourian.)
Certificates of Appreciation were presented to Boy Scout Troop 856 for assisting the post with decorating grave sites of military veterans in area cemeteries, and provided other assistance over the years.
Mark Keune, President of the current VFW Auxiliary, accepted a certificate of appreciation from Commander Frank Astourian on behalf of the Ladies, Mens, and combined Auxiliaries. (34 years Ladies Aux., 10 years Mens Aux., and 1+ years combined VFW Aux.)
Certificates of appreciation were also presented to Arlie Schemmer, Cornelius Gloth, Kenny Colbert, Ron Rector, Bob Hicks and Bob Fry for their outstanding contributions of time and effort devoted to the various activities at the post over the past 23 to 45 years. (L-R with Commander Astourian in photo #4.)
Before moving outdoors for the conclusion of the Memorial Services, Blue Star Banners were presented to Franklin and Dana Butler of Warren County (Photo #5) who have two nieces currently serving in active duty in the U. S. Army and Air Force.
Outdoors, a Single Rifle Salute was performed in honor of members who have died in the past year: Emil Pavlik, James Sickler, James Blondin, Thomas Shipley, Edward Rabbitt, Robert Keymer, Thomas Holstein and Terrence Wibe.
A wreath was laid at the monument in front of the post that bears the names of all deceased members, and a 7-shot rifle salute was performed in honor of all deceased veterans, followed by the playing of Taps and folding of the flag.
Following the Memorial Day ceremonies, all guests were invited to enjoy lunch in the lower hall, featuring pulled pork and a 45th anniversary cake.