Memorial Tribute to Ed Mangan

I first met Ed Mangan in 2018 when I joined the Ahwatukee American Legion Post 64.  He was the Commander of the Post and welcomed me with a hearty laugh and a warm smile. At my first Post 64 member meeting, I noticed the Captain bars on Ed’s Legion cap and the tri-color band that held a round medal signifying he was a member of the Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, this guy is squared away!”.   He impressed me even more when I learned that he was active in MOAA (Military Officers Association of America) and volunteered for ESGR and JROTC programs.  Having served as a Captain in the Army, I know what these organizations are and hold great respect for people who participate and support them.  

Ed was an inspiring leader who walked the walk and spoke strongly and passionately about the importance of remembering those who have served as well as younger members of the community.   He took his roles seriously and enthusiastically participated in hundreds of parades, flag ceremonies, and honor guards.

The world needs more people like Ed Mangan and it is my honor to write and share this tribute article about him and his life.

Edmund “Ed” Louis Mangan III was born in Chicago, Illinois and was the fourth of eight children. He graduated from Joliet Catholic High School in 1961 and served in the United State Air Force as an aircraft maintenance technician, communications engineer and recruiting officer.

He was deployed during the Vietnam conflict and was stationed with units in Wisconsin, California, Mississippi, Texas, Missouri, Kansas, Arizona, Germany, Thailand, and Vietnam. 

After completing correspondence courses at numerous duty stations, Ed graduated from ASU in 1973 with a Bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering. He took 18 credits each semester and took summer courses to complete his degree.

Following his military career, Ed worked as an energy management consultant and eventually started his own company, Energy Design and Consulting, “EDC.” He specialized in saving schools on their electric costs so their funds could be allocated elsewhere.

When not working, Ed truly enjoyed dancing and his favorite dance was the Swing. He professionally taught ballroom dance at Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Phoenix, Arizona. When he was a new instructor, Ed was introduced to a new student, Ann Schminke, when the two were paired together for a few dances. They loved to dance together and eventually taught dance lessons to other couples at the Ahwatukee Recreation Center.  

Ann Schminke and Ed Mangan

Ed attended many Arizona Diamondbacks games and enjoyed going to Spring Training with his daughters Lisa and Laura.  He and Ann had Sunday tickets for a few seasons directly behind home plate.

Ed and the Post 64 Color Guard behind the home plate at a Diamondbacks game, 9/14/2015

Ed passed away on October 17, 2022, five days after his 79th birthday.

He is survived by a large family including his sisters Margaret “Marge” Mangan and Joann (Scott) Jeralds both of Marion, Illinois, brothers Michael “Mick” (Barb) Mangan and Larry (Lesa) Mangan, both of Marion, Illinois, daughters Lisa M. Mangan and Laura Lynne Mangan both of Gilbert, Arizona, and numerous cousins, nephews and nieces.

Thoughts and reflections from Ed’s daughter Lisa:

Dad had an infectious and jovial laugh and cheers with loud applause. When he was excited about something, everyone around him would know. He would cheer the same at a Diamondbacks game as he would seeing a concert of The Duttons, Forever Plaid, or The Celtic Woman; his exuberant “Attaway! Attaway!” was heard after a great baseball play or musical number. He never had an “inside cheer.”

Dad loved to travel. While stationed in Germany, he and our mom traveled to Spain, Italy, Austria, and France. With Ann, he visited Hawaii a few times and went to Laughlin frequently. He went to Ireland in 2005 with his eldest sister, Marge, and Laura & I. While on our trip, we visited the Dunbrody Famine ship and we were able to locate the names of the ships some of our ancestors took to get to the US. He made plans to go on a river cruise in Europe prior to COVID and, unfortunately, was never able to make the trip. He loved traveling back to Illinois to visit family and attended the 2015 & 2021 Mangan Family Reunions. “

RIP Ed Mangan

You lived the words: Duty, Honor, Country.

Hidden Treasures, Golden Bonds

Bill donated a gold nugget and came home with a treasure named Chester.

On Saturday, April 30, 2022, five members of Ahwatukee Post 64 volunteered at a local event called Coffee and Rigs in the parking lot of C2 Tactical in Tempe, AZ.  Their mission was to increase awareness of the benefits of joining the American Legion and recruit new members. 

Post 64 Members (l to r) Al Hunter, Brenda Smull, Pete Meier, Bill Musik and Jack Armstrong

The Coffee and Rigs event was the first of its kind and featured eight vendors/organizations including:  Off Road Warehouse, Turtleback Trailers, Buff City Soap, the American Legion Post 64, Rubicon Rescue, Precision Sports Accessories, and Circle R Farm Food truck.

The Post 64 table of brochures, flyers, flags, candy and historical Legion caps also included tickets for two raffle prizes- a one year family package membership at C2 Tactical and a 2.2 gram gold nugget.

Bill Musik, a Vietnam veteran, donated the gold nugget and discovered a wonderful treasure in return and adopted an adorable dog named Chester from the Rubicon Rescue team two tables down. Chester was perfectly suited to Bill because of their compatible stages in life. Bill had wanted a more senior pet that he could care for through the rest of the dog’s life.

Bill and Chester relax at home. Photo by Steve Smull

C2 Tactical provided Post 64 with the generous one-year membership and has been extremely supportive of Phoenix area First Responders, Veterans and animal rescue organizations.  C2 Tactical is generous with donations of membership packages, classes, and range time when asked and this April event was the third time to they have had Rubicon Rescue host a table at their community functions.

Rubicon Rescue dogs. Photo by Steve Smull

Rubicon Rescue, a local non-profit organization, brought eight dogs and a litter of tiny kittens to the event.  It was great news to hear that four dogs, including Chester, were adopted that day.  Rubicon Rescue’s Mission it to save abandoned, abused and injured shelter animals and they certainly made a positive impact toward this goal.

This event is part of a new PR and membership campaign at the Post 64 and was spearheaded and attended by Al Hunter, Jack Armstrong, Bill Musik and Brenda Smull.   Our Post Commander Pete Meier also supported our efforts at the table.

It was a positive and supportive showing at the Post’s table and the happy, spirited, and appreciative rescue dogs warmed everyone’s hearts.  

A precious face waiting to be adopted. Photo by Steve Smull

A Book Is Born!

I did it!

I published my first book, Strong Words and Simple Truths: The Courage to Communicate, on Amazon today.

To those who have been following and reading my blog over the past 8 years, I thank you for your interest and support of my thoughts, ideas and stories.

Words can not express the joy and elation I am feeling today. This is my baby. My legacy. My tribute to my family, friends, fellow veterans, and Toastmasters.

Over the last few months I have created new content and stories to weave the last 8 years of articles together. The book has 8 Chapters (Epics/Themes) where I grouped the over 80 blogs.

The chapters are: Communications, Toastmasters, Creativity, Veterans, Gratitude, the 1980s, Agile, and Science/Health.

What is the book about?

  • Courage, Communication and the American Spirit
  • Strength, Tolerance and Respect
  • Balance, Perspective and Change
  • Science, Health and History
  • Gratitude, Remembrance and Joy
  • Truth and Common Sense
  • Heroes, Adventure and Fun
  • Veterans, Poppies and Honor
  • Creativity, Toastmasters and the 1980s

An amazingly talented young woman illustrated the book with a fun circus theme that my mascot Ernie the Hedgehog endorses. Kudos to Alex Delit Garcia for her great work.

I don’t know what is next but boy am I excited and energized to share this news with you.

If you would like to purchase this fun compilation with a new, creative adventure throughout, please click on the image below for your very own copy. Here’s the book’s website.

Thank you!

Now More Then Ever- The Importance of the American Legion’s Mission

In this time of Covid-19, the mission of the American Legion is more critical than ever. As the nation’s largest veterans service organization, the wide reaching programs should be increasingly mobilized to meet the members’ needs.

Two pillars of the American Legion’s mission statement stand out to me as being the most important during these challenging times:

  • Devotion to fellow service members and veterans
  • Advocating patriotism and honor

In this time of lockdowns, loneliness and isolation, we need the continued devotion to our fellow members to keep everyone’s spirits up. The health and wellbeing of millions of veterans is the focus and our selfless service to others will keep our communities strong. 

Photo by Matthias Zomer on Pexels.com

In this time of disunion and polarization, we need to be advocating positive patriotism and honor.  By rallying around a common objective we can strengthen America in its battle against the coronavirus.

Now is the time to unite around our shared values and binding symbols, the stars and stripes of the US flag. Now is the time to set aside political differences and take care of each other.

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

The headwinds we face as a nation are great but I remain confident that we will overcome and rise to the occasion.   The United States has faced countless challenges in our 245-year history and the patriotic, generous and giving spirit of Americans won’t be shaken.

I’ll leave you with words from Johnny Cash’s song “Ragged Old Flag”

“In her own good land here she’s been abused 
She’s been burned, dishonored, denied, and refused

And the government for which she stands
Is scandalized throughout the land

And she’s getting threadbare and wearing thin
But she’s in good shape for the shape she’s in

‘Cause she’s been through the fire before
And I believe she can take a whole lot more

So we raise her up every morning
We take her down every night
We don’t let her touch the ground and we fold her up right

On second thought, I do like to brag
‘Cause I’m mighty proud of that ragged old flag.”

Photo by Steve Smull


Respecting the Roses and the Violets

Roses are red,

Violets are blue.

Though we may disagree,

I respect you.

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I’m a Coordinator for Better Angels which is a citizens’ organization uniting red and blue Americans in a working alliance to depolarize America.

The group’s mission is to:

  • Try to understand the other side’s point of view, even if we don’t agree with it
  • Engage those we disagree with, looking for common ground and ways to work together
  • Support principles that bring us together rather than divide us

To learn more about Better Angels click here.

The Courage to Communicate: From Bowling Alone to Better Angels

Being Aware

Bowling Alone

Bold Action

Better Angels

Add a “Q” and I give you Brenda’s Audacious Quest!

I now have the courage to communicate an important message and mission that I hope will resonate with you.

I feel that my 25 years as an active Toastmaster member has prepared me for this moment and I’m happy and excited to get started on a new and somewhat scary endeavor.

Written as a full sentence:

Over the course of time I became aware of the bold action needed to go from Bowling Alone to Better Angels.

At this point you may be asking-  what the hell am I talking about?

How much time?

What bold action?

What is Better Angels?

Simply put, my goal and quest is to help depolarize America.

What?

I want to improve our country’s health, one conversation at a time.

Why? 

Like many of you, I am saddened and tired of how divided we have become as a country.

Other reasons include my desire to:

  • Reduce our collective stress
  • Make our communities stronger
  • Increase civic engagement and bridging social capital

How?

I am an Organizer for Better Angels, a citizens’ organization that is uniting red and blue Americans in a working alliance to depolarize America. 

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So what does Bowling Alone have to do with this?

It all started in the early 1990s when I joined a bowling team called the Misfits.

I was living in northwest Arkansas in a town called Bentonville, the location of the world headquarters of my employer, Wal-Mart. 

To blow off some steam from my intense data center operations job, I joined a local bowling league and happily knocked down some pins every week with total strangers.  We named our team the Misfits and we proudly wore dorky, self- designed black T-shirts with a cheesy silk-screened logo. I had nothing in common with my teammates except the love of the game and the fact that we lived in the same state.  I didn’t remain in Arkansas for more than a few years but I have fond memories of the strong and happy social connections we shared.  Although we may have differed politically, religiously and socio-economically, we bonded and cared for each other.   To this day, I still love to bowl and miss my Misfit friends in Arkansas.

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The other major thing I did while living in Arkansas was join Toastmasters International.

My first experience was in a club called “Words R Us”. It was a diverse and jovial group ranging from southern Baptist preachers to Italian-American transplants from New York.  We all learned from each other and developed a wonderfully supportive culture of tolerance and inclusion.  The club was a true melting pot of ideas, styles and perspectives where everyone was welcomed and all views considered.  I remember enjoying the nights when we held actual debates in a point-counterpoint format.  Pastor Willie Brown was my favorite club member and I always enjoyed listening to his impassioned speeches even though I often disagreed with his point of view. His big smile and hearty laugh were many times the highlight of my week.

Another important and impactful memory I have is from a speech I gave in 2005 while I living in San Diego.   I was the Test Speaker at a Toastmaster Evaluation contest and the title of my speech was called “Bowling Alone”.  I remember using my bowling ball as a prop and discussing the importance and benefits of participating in bowling leagues and other community groups.  While stressing the importance of bridging social capital and community involvement, I lamented the fact that fewer and fewer people were joining and attending local clubs and events and this was having a negative effect on our country’s civic engagement.  My speech was inspired by the book by Robert D. Putnam titled “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community” and focused how the reduction in all forms of in person social activities has caused a decline in social capital.   My message was powerful and I recall many people coming up to me after the speech to express their thoughts and concerns on the topic.

 

Five years after giving the “Bowling Alone” speech, I found myself living in Littleton, CO and a member of the Columbine Communicators Toastmasters club.   There I was again impacted and inspired by the events and people in the local community. The opening words of my presentation that cold day in 2010 were “another school shooting”.   My husband filmed this sober speech with its bold call to action and shared it on YouTube where it has been viewed 3,935 times.  The title of that speech was “Bowling Alone: How to Rebuild our Communities”.

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Fast forward nine years, two more moves and I’m living in Phoenix, Arizona.

It’s 2019 and our country’s civil discourse is at crisis levels. 

The intense amount of polarization is startling to this socially engaged joiner of Toastmasters clubs across the county.  I never imagined that the United States of America would become so divided that friends and family members are not speaking to each because they support different political parties or candidates.

So here I am with my bowling background and public speaking experience, ready to try to bring people together to learn how to communicate again.

My audacious quest is simple yet lofty.

I want to help build bridges and real live connections to overcome our culture of contempt.

I want to help people to see the human faces of their family, friends and neighbors.

I want to help provide a safe environment and forum so people can begin to listen to the shared values and stories of those with whom they disagree.

I want to provide the skills and training for people to have productive conversations.

I want to bring together reasonable people of goodwill to have a sincere dialogue and a healthy competition of ideas.

I want to face fear and contempt with jovial strength and warm heartedness.

I want to listen and find common ground.

I want to disagree without being disagreeable.

I want to live up to Abraham Lincoln’s words below and be a Better Angel. 

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

My name is Brenda Smull and I am organizing a free Communication Skills Workshop in Phoenix, AZ on June 15th, 2019.

Please spread the word and let me know your thoughts on my audacious goal.

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Capturing the Moment

Capturing the Moment

Lights, Camera and the Community in Action

As part of the Toastmasters in the Community series in my Ahwatukee club blog, I published this article last week.

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Sharing the emotion and meaning of a moment in unique and creative ways, Steve Smull has been behind the scenes with his camera and flash at countless Toastmasters, veteran and community events chronicling important occasions, messages and achievements.

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At a Veterans Day parade in Denver, CO

He considers himself an Image Documentarian who enjoys recording milestones and experiences with an eye to aesthetics where angle, context, composition and lighting are all continually considered and calculated.

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Speaking at a Career Fair for Veterans in  Phoenix, AZ

 

 

Steve learned the art of the craft from his father who was a professional photographer specializing in black and white prints.  Filming in Super 8 was also a skill he learned in his youth and drives his passion for videography today.

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Presenting a wreath at a Memorial Day service in Denver, CO

Steve gets the shot that helps share and promote the perspective and meaning of the scene.  By saving memories and images he helps memorialize and remember our past and the sacrifices many have made.  By reporting and educating, he honors our history and traditions one frozen moment at a time.

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The winners of a Poppy Queen contest

 

By documenting the impact, action and faces in the community, Steve aids his fellow volunteers in promoting and increasing awareness on their important causes.

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The Ahwatukee American Legion Color Guard in Arizona

 

Whether it’s a speech contest, a fundraiser gala, a  bike race or a solemn memorial service, Steve has a knack for artfully capturing the action, passion and beauty of the scene.

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At the Cyclocross Nationals Race in Boulder, CO

 

My Compelling Blog: Part 3 (GHI)

 

Welcome to Part 3 of my compelling blog where the letters GHI stand for Giving Heroes Inspire.

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My first role models were in my home and were my hard working and humble parents.

My next role models were in my school and were my inspiring teachers and supportive, caring coaches.

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My high school soccer coach, Jean Puf

The other amazing role models were in my community and were the volunteer members of my small town’s first aid squad and fire department.  They didn’t get paid but always responded to the loud siren call to help someone in need.

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These giving heroes inspired me to be a better person and I dedicate this blog to them.

The brave first responders in our community deserve our upmost respect and support.

The many selfless teachers and coaches in our schools should be appreciated, well paid and celebrated.

I am so grateful to my parents, siblings and extended family in NJ who instilled in me the importance of giving, helping and supporting others.

Let us never forget the sacrifice that the many Heroes in our midst make every day.

The Spirit of Giving

The spirit of giving is alive and well in Phoenix, Arizona and it reminds of the many special people who shaped my life.

My mother, Virginia, was a jolly and generous woman whose smile could brighten any room. As an active member of the Ladies Auxiliary in VFW Post 4589 in our hometown and she brought joy to many sick veterans during weekend visits to the local VA hospitals.  She brought the patients treats, books and most importantly, she brought them her loving spirit and warming laugh.

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My Mom, Virginia Nason

Although my Mom is no longer on this earth, it comforts me to know that her warm spirit of giving is still alive through me, my siblings and other auxiliary and veteran group members.

This past year, I joined American Legion Post 64 in Ahwatukee, AZ for a host of reasons:

One- It is important to me to honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Two- My parents instilled in me a strong sense of obligation to help others in the community.

The foundation of the American Legion’s values is based on four pillars and this holiday season, I was delighted to see two of them demonstrated so clearly by the generous actions of fellow members of Post 64.

The two pillars of Veteran Affairs & Rehabilitation and Children & Youth were shown and strengthened by the kind deeds of Deb & Roger Munchbach and Kris & Jim Cetone.  Like my parents did years ago, they visited the Phoenix VAMC and livened up the dreary, white hallways with festive Christmas trees and boxes of goodies that were free to anyone who wanted them.

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Deb Munchbach with Jim and Kris Cetone

Another heartwarming holiday project that was spearheaded by the Munchbachs and supported by members of Post 64 involved supporting the Christmas Sponsorship Program at Save The Family in Mesa, AZ.  In this program, participating family members are asked to submit “wish lists” that are shared with the sponsors.

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The gifts for our Christmas family

Post 64 sponsored a local veteran family and used the money donated from the distribution of poppies (hand crafted by Roger) along with cash gifts from post members to purchase a sleigh-full of presents (toys and household items).

It is this spirit of giving and caring for others that makes we most proud to be a member of American Legion Post 64.

 

During this Christmas season I feel merrier knowing that my Mom is looking down at us with her big smile and saying:

“Ho, Ho, Ho! 

Good job on keeping them smiling and laughing!”

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Jim, Kris and Roger brightened the Phoenix VAMC

 

 

 

 

Appreciation and Thanks

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I am thankful for organizations that are motivated, dedicated and committed to helping those less fortunate in the local community.  One such group is American Legion Post 64 in Ahwatukee, Arizona which continues to be recognized for its good work in the Phoenix area.

Post 64 was recently awarded three plaques to recognize its efforts and good works including: Outstanding Post History, Outstanding Color Guard and the 2018  Commanders Award for Community Service.

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Post 64 Color Guard in action.  Photo by Steve Smull

It’s no wonder that this fine Post has received the Membership award for the last 3 years.

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I so appreciate the positive acknowledgment of the generous and patriotic service of the members of Ahwatukee Post 64 and I am proud to call myself an active member.

Click here for the Post 64 Website