By Sheryl Oswalt
This month’s featured food establishment took me back to Schoolcraft to the American Legion Post 475. Maybe not the first place that pops into your mind when you are considering a night out, but if it’s Thursday and you are in the area, it’s a great place to stop in for a meal. From September through April, Thursday night’s meals are open to the public and are part of the fundraising activities of the 475 post. We enjoyed pork loin with mashed potatoes, vegetable, roll, and apple cake. We could have added a bowl of soup to our meal but we were full without it – the cost was $8 per meal.
Being fortunate enough that my father served in the Air Force during peacetime, I have never been personally acquainted with any of the veteran’s organizations; so I was eager to learn more about what the American Legion was all about. The American Legion was chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization devoted to mutual helpfulness. It is the nation’s largest wartime veteran’s service organization, committed to mentoring youth and sponsorship of wholesome programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security, and continued devotion to our fellow service members and veterans. (http://www.legion.org/mission)
Thursday’s meal was prepared by 1st Vice Commander of Post 475, Terry Ladd of Portage. I have it on good authority that no one has ever had a bad meal prepared by Mr. Ladd and ours was no exception. It was a little intimidating entering the Legion through the back door but we were greeted warmly and immediately by the hostess of the evening, Sally Legos. We paid our money to Jennie Mitchell and were served our meal by members of the Ladd family. Terry’s son Brian, and his wife Lisa and their twins Austin and Cody were all helping in the kitchen.
Honorably discharged or active members of the United Stated Arm Forces who have served in federal active duty during wartime including World War I & II, Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon/Grenada, Panama or the Persian Gulf/War on Terrorism are all eligible to become members of the American Legion. In 1932, the Sons of The American Legion or S.A.L. was formed for males of all ages whose parents or grandparents served and were eligible for membership. The A.L.A. or American Legion Auxiliary is the organization’s female support division.
Each Legion post is financially responsible for the operation and upkeep of its facility. In addition to funding veteran needs, they raise funds to send their local youth to a program called Boys State. The week-long program is held each year at Northwood University and gives young men and women in their junior year of high school an opportunity to gain insight into what goes on in state government. They spend seven days in a dorm setting and learn what it is to be a member of local and state government. Austin and Cody Ladd had been able to take advantage of this opportunity in 2015 and found it a great experience. Cody was surprised to find himself working 10-12 hour days in his “job” as Mayor during his time at Boys State. It gave him a new appreciation for the time and commitment it takes to be a public servant. This year the Post plans to send four more participants.
Other events that the Post can be found hosting include the 4th of July chicken and ribs barbeque and the 2-Man Squirrel Competition held in January as well as a summer golf outing. Their 3rd annual squirrel competition held on January 30th drew in 42 teams taking 191 squirrels. Teams consisted of men and women of all ages. Participants enjoyed cash prizes and hot food at the conclusion of the event.
The people at the 475th Post in Schoolcraft were very friendly and it was fun to see them enjoying each other’s company and a good meal. I would recommend that everyone consider taking in a Legion event if you are looking for a good time with great people and a great cause! The American Legion can be proud of the work done in Schoolcraft by Commander Sam Cooper and his fellow Legion members.