Bob Mitchell: Salute our local veterans for their service
Veterans Day is this week, and there are still plenty of veterans residing in Barry County. So, anyone who wants to hug a veteran on this special day, just contact them and there is some certainty that the gesture will be received with pleasure.
These days, veterans aren't as revered as they once were after World War II. Those coming home from service were once prime candidates to seek public office.
There was only one place in the community where a veteran was discouraged from using his time in service, and that was in the American Legion. Post 118 in Cassville was strict in governing influence between veterans for any political purpose. In addition, the rank held by veterans in the Armed Forces meant absolutely nothing in the ranks of Legionnaires.
On this day, United States flags will be flown in special displays throughout the country. While there are, regrettably, not as many residential flags in Cassville displayed for the holiday as were once exhibited several years ago.
In the 1960s, the American Legion here instituted a door-to-door campaign to sell house flags at the exact cost paid by the post. In addition, if need be, post members would install the display brackets on the structure of the person making the purchase. It fell to my crew's lot to draw five or six installations on stucco buildings, which required a special drill to attach the metal holder to the structures.
Post members enjoyed getting out among local residents and businesses and making the service available. During those years, Cassville had about as high a percentage of flags being flown during holidays as could be found anywhere in this area.
In displaying the American Flag, Cassville has a good reputation for following etiquette as set forth by Congress. The late Richard (Sarge) Carney, who had a full career in the Air Force, carried the nickname of Flag Policeman in the community for a number of years.
Any violation in the use of the nation's emblem was promptly brought to the offender's attention by Carney, who would often back up his opinions by presenting the person or business involved with a small pamphlet, Flag Facts. Provided by the Disabled American Veterans, it provided rules and directions for each and every use of the flag, right down to the proper disposal of torn, tattered or soiled flags.
Barry County has lost about 67 veterans of various service periods during the past two years.
According to the Missouri Veterans Commission in Jefferson City, the vet numbers stood at 3,018 two years ago. As of Sept. 30 of this year, veteran numbers for Missouri stand at 2,951.
Looking to the future for World War II veteran numbers, the Veteran's Administration has posted expected numbers for the next four years.
As of this September, the number of living WWII veterans stood at 213,000. It is projected that number will decline to 176,000 by the same period next year, 131,000 by the year 2022 and drop to under 100,000 to an estimated 96,000 by 2023.
Cassville schools do a good job of honoring veterans with their annual assembly through words and music for the special occasion. It was my pleasure to speak to the first such gathering of the student body, which was held outside during a perfectly sunny morning, more years ago than I can remember.
Jerry Marple was high school principal at the time, and the assembly was near the structure holding the old school bell. The subject included the number of veterans who were involved in various services around Cassville. There were 100-plus faculty members at that time, and only one person had a military service background.
So far as teaching the existence of World War II, the Greatest Generation and what they brought to this country, textbooks did a pitiful job and only one teacher, at that time, Jack Farrow, took any time in his teaching schedule to cover that period in America's history. His performance placed him in top ranking, as far as this columnist is concerned.
There are only two weeks until Thanksgiving. Then, if you want to look still further into the future, Christmas is just six weeks down the road.
Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat.