Over forty-five U.S. military veterans and American Legion Auxiliary members gathered at the Ahwatukee Recreation Center in Phoenix on April 5, 2023 to share experiences, eat, drink, laugh, and play cards. The event opened up with Post 64 Commander, Pete Meier, leading the group in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Five large, round tables were set with color-coded tablecloths and signs to denote the military branches (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard).
The Emcee of the event, Brenda Smull, went around the room with a microphone so that the veterans could introduce themselves and share where and when they served their country. The dates ranged from 1962 to the early 2000s. All branches of the military were represented with the Air Force table having the most people. John Augustyn was our sole Coast Guard veteran and he enthusiastically shared light blue playing cards with the crest of his branch.
The Auxiliary table was full with supportive and generous spouses and daughters of veterans. This group is a newly forming Unit of the American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) and provided a great deal of help and assistance with the food and drink at this event.
All enjoyed large and delicious pizzas from Venezia’s, salads, spinach dip, and homemade molasses cookies by Darlene Hunter.
A brightly colored information table displayed history books titled Letters to Ann, Shoot Like a Girl and Ashley’s War. Red, white and blue pamphlets on the American Legion, the Auxiliary, and U.S. flag etiquette, provided information about the history, services, and benefits.
Rockin’ music from the 1960s, 70s and 80s added to the fun and festive environment. A small, blue Bose speaker filled the large meeting room and did its job admirably.
The energy and connection of this positive gathering helped strengthen the social fabric of our community. Camaraderie, respect and support go a long way to bridging generational gaps and mending past wounds.
During this small, simple social mixer, there was a feeling of being united– not just as veterans and supporters but as united citizens of our country- One Nation, Under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All.
A bonus of this Veteran’s meeting was an increased sense of belonging in the community and a renewed focus and appreciation for those who have bravely and selflessly served their country.