Where is the next generation of veterans?
American Legion posts in Gloucester and Mathews counties kept the spirit of last weekend’s holiday alive by paying tribute to fallen comrades in separate Memorial Day services on Sunday afternoon.
But, with dwindling numbers at events such as these, one speaker wondered aloud when the next generation of America’s veterans would step up to continue the tradition of the Legionnaires and similar military service organizations.
Tommy Lewis, past commander of Post 83 in Mathews, speaking at the service at the post headquarters in Hudgins, gave a brief history of the American Legion and the Mathews post, detailing its periods of growth and contraction over the years.
At present, he said, there are about 14 men who are actively immersed in running the day-to-day affairs at the post, working the monthly breakfasts and forming the honor guard that provides services at veterans’ funerals.
Income from fundraisers such as the breakfasts have dropped off, Lewis said, while expenses associated with maintaining the post home on Hookemfair Road continue to rise. He said that the average age of the post’s honor guard members is nearly 70.
“Where are all these Persian Gulf veterans? Where do they go?” Lewis asked. He made a plea for other veterans, especially younger men and women, to get involved in the American Legion post.
All told, about 50 people attended Sunday’s service in Mathews. In the Gloucester service, held in front of the new courthouse alongside the Gloucester Veterans Memorial wall, about 130 people showed up, including representatives from a number of community organizations laying wreaths at the wall.