Question: What does a school cross country meet on the south edge of Vinton have to do with a meeting of veterans that takes place on the west edge of town.
Answer: Nothing, but this: Both the young runners and the old soldiers and sailors rely on the support of those not involved to help them succeed.
I spent two hours at the high school campus on Tuesday night, watching as VS Middle School and High School cross country runners competed. While taking photos of people running does not offer the most unique photo opportunities, taking photos of those cheering on the runners can inspire.
And there were lots of enthusiastic spectators in the audience. The 7th grade VSMS volleyball team wandered over from the gym after practice to cheer on the VSMS runners. Still wearing their practice apparel and protective gear, the team members, at the request of Coach Duffy and Coach Hanson, lined the route. Those girls were among the loudest and most energetic of the evening, yelling and gesturing as their classmates and friends jogged past them.
The high school runners also had their cheerleaders, as those who had finished their races cheered for those taking their turn on the course.
Among the most inspiring photos of the night showed Vikette freshman Amelia Birker, overcome with exhaustion, being carried on the back of her father, Jeff.
Across town, another team — a different team of a different age — also continues to run its race, and also depends on support of those around them.
Members of the George G. Luckey Post 57 American Legion met at the Legion Hall to discuss the future of the post.
“We can’t go on like this,” said one member.
He is right. The Legion fund-raisers are not bringing in money the way they did a decade ago, and the reason is simple: The members of the group are getting up in years and just don’t have the energy to work as they did before.
“It would be a shame to lose the Legion building,” said another.
He is right, too. In addition to being a place to store and display many items of area military history, the Legion Hall is a place for wedding receptions, dinners and other events.
Commander Bobbi Enos thanked the 33 Legion members who attended the meeting, but she pointed out that 33 is the highest number in attendance at a Post 57 meeting during her year as Commander. At times, there were not the 15 required for a meeting to be considered official.
The large crowd came because of the letter they had received — the letter informing them that the future of the post and the potential sale of the building were on the agenda.
The 33 members voted unanimously to keep the building, but they also agreed that the post faces challenges in getting enough willing and able volunteers for events, especially fund-raisers. Two years ago, their net revenue from events at the Hall was only around $700. Last year, with the Fall Festival and Thirsty Thursday events helping to bring in revenue, the Hall netted about $5,000.
But still a shortage of volunteers presents a long-term issue.
The Legion members agreed to try to do a little more, to hold more events, to keep the bar open, to continue in some form the Thursday events (although they may be bi-weekly instead of weekly, and take place on a different night).
“We just need more people to show up and get involved,” Commander Bobbi told the members.
After the meeting, I asked what the citizens of Vinton could do.
“Just show up,” she said. Show up at fish fry or steak dinner events, show up when the Legion sells burgers and hot dogs at Fareway, as they will do this Saturday for lunch. Those of you who like to sit around sipping an adult beverage can show up when the bar is open. And come willing to give, and even perhaps make an extra donation.
Most of us are not soldiers, or veterans. I am not. But all of us can do something to help this group continue to serve the community. Some of the veterans at Tuesday’s meeting have been involved in the Legion for 60 or more years.
That kind of service, first as a soldier or sailor, and later as a veteran and community leader, deserves the same kind of constant, energetic support I saw and heard at the high school.
And all we have to do to help keep our Legion Post is to show up.
That sounds pretty easy.
So, let’s do it.