Tahlequah Daily Press

Features

May 9, 2012

Veterans groups have busy schedules

TAHLEQUAH — Cherokee County boasts several active veterans organizations, with overlapping members – and some of them are rising to prestigious positions.

The Tahlequah Blackfox-Hartness American Legion Post 135 has a member serving as the Oklahoma East Vice Commander, and when July comes around, it could have its first state commander represented.

Post 135-member John “Wes” Benge is the Oklahoma American Legion East vice commander and is the favorite among post members across the state to assume the role of Oklahoma’s AL commander, said Tahlequah AL Post 135 Commander Tony O’seland.

“We’re pretty confident he’s going to win,” said O’seland. “We know this from talking to people around the state who are eligible to vote.”

The election will be held in early July, and members across the state are already discussing who they’ll report as their chosen candidate when the numbers are read aloud at the summer conference in Oklahoma City. Benge has been “all over Oklahoma on commander tours” and has an idea of what to expect in July.

“The polls have me way ahead right now,” said Benge. “We have 500-something American Legions in the state, and I’ve got 95 percent of them right now. I guess I’ll be the first from Tahlequah as state commander. I might also be the first Cherokee citizen, from what I understand, too.”

Benge makes routine trips to Washington, D.C., as chairman of the state’s legislation committee, and also serves as national legislation committee vice chairman.

“I go to Washington three or four times a year when they call us on Capitol Hill on sensitive issues,” he said. “We make sure they don’t take away the money they’ve allotted to us.”

The leading issue Benge and fellow members try to address whenever they’re in Washington – or find themselves standing in front of a member of Congress – is the flag desecration amendment, often referred to as the flag-burning amendment.

“It’s always shot down by one or two votes,” he said. “So we try to work on that with the senators. They say it’s a form of expression, and it’s not. It’s a form of physical expression. We’ve been fighting that for a long time.”

O’seland said Post 135 is taking nominations for next year’s officers.

“This Thursday at our monthly meeting, we’ll be doing final nominations for officers,” he said. “Candidates are, for commander, James Savage; for first vice commander, Jerry Gay. Second vice commander is Russell Boyd. Then there’s myself for adjutant and for finance officer, Tommy Pack. We’ll be taking nominations from the floor again during the meeting, and the elections will be held at the July meeting.”

O’seland said other Post 135 activity includes the weekly turkey shoot, held every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and plans for a series of garage sales are  being discussed.

The Tahlequah Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3707 recently elected officers for next year, said Post Commander Kenneth Rystedt.

“We elected John Martin as the commander,” said Rystedt. “Me as the senior vice commander. Dan Garber as the junior vice commander, and Bill Taylor is the quartermaster. They take office the first of July.”

Rystedt said there’s a push to get younger veterans involved in the local war-veteran organization.

“We really need younger members to join the VFW,” he said. “I think we only have one guy, who is the youngest, from Desert Storm. Most of us are Vietnam or Korea or World War II veterans.”

Interested veterans are urged to visit the post on Mondays or Wednesdays. The Monday bingo game, which helps raise food for the CARE Food Pantry, begins at 6:30 p.m., and the VFW offers veterans and their families coffee doughnuts from 9 a.m. to noon on every Wednesday. Rystedt said a service officer is made available at the Wednesday event to help veterans and their families with claims and other necessary paperwork.

“Veterans interested in joining can come by the post either on Monday during bingo and my wife will get them an application, or come on Wednesdays,” said Rystedt.

Rystedt said the bingo game, which is open to the public, helps raise food for the food pantry.

“If you bring canned food, you get a free game,” he said. “We take that and turn it into the food pantry. The VFW Auxiliary does fundraisers. They had the wild onion and egg dinner in April, and they did real well. They’re at the hospital right now.”

Rystedt said the VFW Auxiliary visits veterans in local hospitals once a month and equips them with shopping certificates.

“They hand out $5 coupon books,” he said. “They also donate to the food pantry. My wife is the president of that organization. They have a bean dinner on Veterans Day.”

Any veterans interested in joining American Legion Post 50 are welcome to attend meetings on the second Monday of the month, at 6 p.m., at the Legion Hut at the Sequoyah City Park. The post commander is Nelda Littlejohn, who could not be reached by press time.

Contact with the Tahlequah Disabled American Veterans group was attempted, but comments on group activity and officer elections were unavailable at press time.

1
Text Only
Features
  • wherearethey.jpg Padilla enjoys reconnecting with childhood

    As a child spending time at her grandparents’ house, with all her aunts, uncles, and cousins around her, Kerrie (Bosley) Padilla spent endless hours outside playing chase, catching fireflies, or writing and acting out plays.
    In 1987, after her dad got out of the Navy, the family moved here from Georgia to be closer to that family: matriarch Dorothy Monzingo, and maternal grandparents Dorothy and Dwight Allen. Her parents, DeAnna and Steve Edwards – as well as a couple of siblings and some aunts, uncles and cousins – still live here.
    Eventually, Padilla graduated from Northeastern State University, and then its College of Optometry.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • rf-Dream1.jpg Dream Theatre spotlights songwriters

    Dreams can come true for local aspiring songwriters who seek to gain performance experience.
    For one young musician, Thursday night was an unexpected dream of discovery, as well.
    Two opportunities are available to musicians at the Dream Theatre each month, the new Songwriters’ Showcase which opened Thursday night and Premier Night for musicians who have a few songs or a set, but not a whole show.
    In search of the groove that works for The Dream, Manager Larry Clark is partnering with Blake Turner, Lakes Country operation manager.
    The Songwriters’ Showcase, which will continue the third Thursday of the month in conjunction with Tahlequah Main Street Association’s Third Thursday Art Walk downtown, features seasoned performers who can share some of their personal insights into the how, when and why of their songwriting experiences.

    April 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • Dream, Brewdog’s to host music festivals

    One sign of spring’s arrival is the scheduling of music festivals, and 10 bands will visit a Tahlequah venue May 24, the Saturday before Memorial Day.

    April 17, 2014

  • rf-Zoe-thing.jpg Conference attendees get words of encouragement

    Words of encouragement and door prizes were bountiful Saturday morning at the annual Zoë Institute’s Women’s Conference.
    Ten women shared words of wisdom in areas from happiness to health, and 100 gifts were given out, including the grand prize of gasoline for a year.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • sp-symposium-art-panel.jpg Panelists discuss impact of Southeastern art

    Until recently, most people had a certain expectation of American Indian art – and it didn’t include images familiar to people in and around Cherokee County.
    “A lot of times, when people think about Native art, they immediately think of Plains art or Southwestern art,” said Roy Boney (Cherokee), Tahlequah artist and moderator of the panel discussion “Southeastern Indian Art: Building Community and Raising Awareness,” held Friday, April 11, at the NSU Symposium on the American Indian.
    Boney and the other panelists are frustrated by the divide between mainstream expectations of Native American art and their need for genuine self-expression.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • rf-Teacher.jpg Dickerson believes in putting the student first

    As a child growing up in Elk City, Cherokee Elementary teacher Debra Dickerson lined up the neighborhood children and animals to play school.
    “I’ve been a teacher ever since I could talk. My mother always said she knew where I was because she could hear me bossing everyone,” she said.
    The classroom then was a blanket tossed over limbs of her big cherry tree on Eisenhower Street. Recess was spent tree-climbing, running, riding in the bus (her red wagon) and being creative.
    “Those were the days before video games and TV,” she said.
    Dickerson, 2013-’14 Cherokee Elementary Teacher of the Year, believes a classroom should be a safe haven for children, because school is often the best part of their day.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • kh-trash-pickup.jpg Cleaning things up

    Lowrey was part of the Cherokee Nation’s Career Service Center contingency of 11 volunteers. Other volunteers cleaned up trash along the roadway from the Cherokee Casino to the NSU campus.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • SR-NinthAmendment.jpg Right to privacy leans partly on Article 9

    While the other articles of the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights are straightforward – at least, enough for Americans to bicker over in court – the Ninth Amendment might cause a bit of confusion.
    It reads: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
    There are no rights enumerated, and it might be difficult to argue one’s Ninth Amendment rights in court, though it has been done successfully.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • stickball-2.jpg Stickball

    The American Indian Science and Engineering Society and Native American Student Associationat Northeastern State University hosted a traditional stickball game as part of closing cultural activities during the 42nd annual Symposium on the American Indian Friday. Participants included, from left: Nathan Wolf, Disosdi Elk and Chris Smith.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • green-bldng.jpg City council to discuss ‘green building’

    Tahlequah City Council will hold a special meeting Friday, April 11, at 5:30 p.m. to discuss, among other items, applying grant money to renovate the city’s “green building” at the corner of Water and Morgan, near Norris Park.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

How confident are you that the immunizations for infants and children are reasonably safe?

Not at all confident.
Somewhat confident.
Relatively confident.
Extremely confident.
undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Stocks