Currently viewing the tag: "Veterans of Foreign Wars"

Memorial Day is traditionally known as the official start of summer. The first Memorial Day was celebrated in 1865, known as Decoration Day, established to recognize the fallen soldiers of the Civil War. After World War II, the name was changed to Memorial Day to remember and honor those who have died while serving our country. 

In 1971, The National Holiday Act moved Memorial Day to the third Monday of May to provide a three-day weekend. Today, many civic organizations, Veterans of Foreign Wars, AMVETS (American Veterans), The American Legion, and Knights of Columbus keep with tradition and celebrate Memorial Day on May 30.

Annually, the Thurmont American Legion Post 168, in conjunction with AMVETS Post 7, Voiture Locale 155 40/8 locomotive Chewy, and the Town of Thurmont, hosts a ceremony to include a guest speaker and a wreath laying to honor our military from each War/Conflict at Memorial Park. Memorial Day is about honoring our military that have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms

Girl Scout Troop 37191, Cub Scout Pack 270, BSA Scout Troops 270 B/G, Venturing Crew 270, and Christian Service Brigade provide the the flag ceremony, honoring this year’s Memorial Day Ceremony. Courtesy Photo


Mayor John Kinnaird

The Town of Thurmont celebrated Arbor Day on April 22 by planting more trees in the Community Park.  This planting was undertaken by the Thurmont Green Team, as part of their ongoing efforts to ensure a clean environment for our current and future residents. The damages inflicted on our Ash trees by the emerald borer resulted in many of the mature trees having to be removed from the Community Park. The planting of new trees will, over time, replace the cooling canopy we enjoy in the park. The Green Team also sponsored a Hunting Creek Clean Up Day and managed to remove 690 pounds of trash from the steam and its banks. The Green Team also wants to remind everyone that garden spots are still available in the Community Garden. Many thanks to Thurmont’s Green Team for their hard work!

The Board of Commissioner (BOC) recently approved a bid for street improvements within town. The work includes blacktop overlays of East Street, Lombard Street, and Shipley Avenue. This work will be completed during the summer months; please be aware of these projects and, as with all of our street repairs, please be careful when driving through the construction areas.

The BOC is currently working on the 2017-2018 Budget. I am hopeful that we will use the Constant Yield Tax Rate for the upcoming year.  This means that we will be collecting the same amount of taxes as during the 2016-2017 fiscal year. With recent increases in property values, everyone should realize a very small decrease in property taxes. We hope to adopt the final budget in May.

In recent weeks, you may have noticed underground work being completed at the intersection of Rouzer Lane and Rt. 550. This work is part of the ongoing effort to ensure dependable electric service for Catoctin High School and the Catoctin Heights subdivision.  Currently, Catoctin Heights is at the end of a service line that starts on the Emmitsburg Road and crosses Rt. 15. The improvements will include new underground service lines, as well as a new loop connected to Sandy Spring Lane, to provide a backup circuit should there be a problem with the current feed line.

I was recently appointed to serve on the Frederick County Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC). SWAC is charged with reviewing the County Solid Waste Plan, and we have been following closely the What’s Next initiative, established by County Executive Gardner to investigate improved recycling options for our residents. The State of Maryland has mandated a recycling level of 90 percent for organic waste, including food waste and grass clippings, by the year 2040. This goal will require a massive undertaking within Frederick County to start a program of collection and composting to realize these levels of recycling. The current recommended plan calls for as many as 10-14 small composting facilities across the County and new methods of collection. Ultimately, all residences, businesses, schools, and other facilities will be included in this plan. I encourage all of our residents to pay attention as this plan moves forward and to get involved! For more information about What’s Next, visit

Please take the time to enjoy the newly rebuilt Roddy Road Covered Bridge, as well as the improvements to Roddy Road Park and Loy’s Station Park!

I can be reached at 301-606-9458 or by email at


 Mayor Don Briggs

In April, I was given the opportunity to speak at three events.

On April 8, at the Doughboy statue, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the town commemorated the 100-year anniversary of the United States declaring war on Germany and entering World War I. Commissioner Blanchard and I spoke. Thank you, Commissioner Blanchard, for putting this event together.

In addition to a quote of General Douglas MacArthur, I referenced, in a humble tribute to the soldiers who fought in WWI: “There, for those soldiers, in the prime of their lives, it was a hope for a tomorrow and a prayer for their – now. For us, because of them and what they did and gave, we have a tomorrow of tomorrows and prayers for our now and those nows to come.”

Also on April 8, I joined the  more than two hundred people who attended the dedication of the sprinkler system at the Frederick County Fire/Rescue Museum National Fire Heritage Center on South Seton Avenue, sharing in awe of the live-burn demo, which used a “Side-by-Side Burn Trailer.”

“Welcome. They say every story has a protagonist, a leading character. The good person, the good people. In our town, there are many protagonists for the many stories that form our community story. And what a story it is, with a rich history that includes both an emphasis on education and spiritualty… Today, we gather for one such story to recognize the collaborative efforts of suppliers, installers, fire service personnel, and all levels of government, to bring about the installation of the sprinkler system in the Fire Museum and National Fire Heritage Center…But underlying this effort has been the quiet efforts of a group of amazing people, lifelong fireman, rooted here in Frederick County and from all over the country… To these founders, it is an honor and pleasure to know and work with you,” I said during my remarks.

On April 10, Libby and I dined with Korey Shorb and Conrad Weaver. Korey is doing great things for the county to educate and understand addiction through his “Up & Out” Foundation. Our Emmy-Award-winner Conrad is producing a documentary on drug addiction, with a focus on Frederick County. More to come on the town’s collaboration with these gentlemen.

On April 12, Libby and I, along with Commissioner Buckman, attended the presentation on addiction at Catoctin High School, sponsored principally by the Schildt family: “CHRIS for Family Support in Recovery.” It was a moving program that touched all the sensibilities of those in attendance, in the nearly packed-full auditorium. I am blessed to have coached young men, in either football or rugby, over a span of five decades, during which I attended funerals for five of my players. Recently, I have been blessed to be mayor of Emmitsburg for the past five years, and during this time, I have already attended five funerals for drug-related deaths.

It is written, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Our treasure is our families. In the face of this insidious onslaught, put away petty distractions, and, yes, everything is petty when it comes to our families, as well as our friends and community.

They say that our grandparents—and for some, great-grandparents—were the greatest generation in what they did during WWI. We need another greatest generation in this fight for our children. We can be the next greatest generation—we have to be the next greatest generation.

I am so blessed to live in Northern Frederick County.

VFW Building- Veterans COLUMN2You are eligible to be a member of any VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) Men’s Auxiliary if you are a man over the age of sixteen, a citizen of the United States, and are a husband, widower, father, son, grandson, brother, foster brother, step brother, foster son, or step son of persons who were or are eligible for membership in the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. The very first thing you should know—and I will attest to—is that these organizations are not formed just for a cheap drinking establishment; we are comrades in aiding our parent organization, the VFW, our Veterans and our community families. We have standing committees for membership, relief, publicity, youth activities, Americanism, community activities, and safety. We have fundraising functions and urge everyone to volunteer their time and expertise to make the events enjoyable, as well as profitable. We have as our objective to promote Americanism by means of education in patriotism and constructive service to local communities.

The VFW has a National Home for Veterans Children, and they are celebrating their 90th year this year. The National Home’s community is open to active duty military personnel, Veterans, and—recognizing that the effects of war can last for generation—descendants of members of the VFW and its auxiliaries. The families can be one or both parents with one or more children. Families are welcomed to their small community, where they can live for up to four years. They work to identify what they need and want to accomplish, during which time they are provided with housing, education, day care, basic needs, recreation, case management, and a military and family helpline. We urge everyone to get involved by telling others about it and by donating to their fund or holding a fundraiser for them.

VFW Men’s Auxiliary 6658 President Leo Hobbs does a great job of leading. Leo is regularly on top of things; when we have a fundraising feed, he keeps things well organized and moving. We have a meeting once a month on the first Wednesday. From October through April, we hold our meetings at the Post, located on the square in Emmitsburg; from May through September, we hold our meetings at VFW Park, located off Harney Road (off of Rt. 140, east of Emmitsburg). We usually arrive at either site around 6:15 p.m. for the meal we have before our meeting, so we can start the meeting at 7:00 p.m. We have a few members who have been in the military but did not qualify as regular members because of the times and places served when they were in, and they are very welcome as our comrades. Our treasurer, Steve Wojciechowski (he says pronounce it “where’s your house key”), is one with a military history, and I would like to interview him some time. He was a Sgt. Major, and I’m sure he has led an interesting life for me to write about. One of our member’s fathers was once Post Commander, Luman Norris’s son, Luman and he is one of our trustees. Leo’s son, Josh, is our secretary or adjutant and takes a great interest in doing his job; he is also at most of our functions and does a great job on the floor keeping our patrons happy. Mark Zurgable is our chaplain and is also an asset when it comes to our functions; he will do just about anything that is asked of him. Mark’s dad was one of the members of the VFW who helped keep things together with the Post. I am senior vice president and truly enjoy my position and all of the functions I am privileged to attend and help out with. My dad was also a member of the VFW and was in WWII. Dick Fleagle is also a trustee and a great help at our functions. Lewis Smith is also an asset when it comes to functions for fundraising. The people I have mentioned so far as Men’s Auxiliary members have over 500 years of age between them, with me included, and it’s about time for some younger blood to come in and get involved. We have a new incentive for joining our organization—besides the obvious one of giving you a sense of satisfaction in helping Veterans, kids, and your community—we are going to begin in January to give a PUFL (a paid-up-for-life membership) to one lucky winner each January. Stop in and get an application with all of the details on how you can qualify for the PUFL; it is really quite easy.

We have our annual Shrimp and Chicken Feed coming up at the Post on November 7, 2015, and it would be a great opportunity for you to see everyone in action and better yet come in and fill out an application (available at the bar.) Ee have a meeting coming up November 4, and we can vote you in just in time to give us a hand at the feed. I would sure like to see you there and I’m sure the rest of the members will feel the same way. November 14 we are having a Turkey and Ham Give-A-Way at Post 6658 and all you have to do is show up at 6:00-10:00 p.m. and every half hour a number will be drawn and a turkey or ham will be given away and the nice thing about it is, it doesn’t cost you anything because you will be given a ticket at the door when you arrive absolutely free. There will also be light refreshment for everyone to eat free of charge. It is our way of saying thank you for attending our feeds throughout the year. We also raffle off meat trays and oysters and, maybe, bacon. We will be holding another identical event on December 12th so mark your calendars. We are all looking forward to seeing you at the upcoming events starting on November 7. A big thank you in advance to all of you.

I look forward to seeing everyone out trick or treating on October 31 in Emmitsburg and seeing you in the parade. I have been asked to be the official Halloween photographer and plan on taking a ton of pictures of you to put in The Catoctin Banner. Don’t forget to give me your name— how else are we going to recognize you?

God Bless the United States of America, God Bless the American Veteran, and God Bless You.