Oakwood flying its pride high for those serving in military
OAKWOOD – Cheri Voorhees' son, J.T. Voorhees, 29, has spent more than two years in Iraq with the U.S. Army and missed Christmases with his family in Oakwood.
"It was hard on the whole family, but we are very thankful he was home for the first time in six years (last year,)" said Voorhees, whose son is now stationed stateside but could possibly return to Iraq or Afghanistan in the future.
Members of the Oakwood American Legion, Vincent Hays Post 610, want to honor Oakwood-area active-duty military personnel like J.T. Voorhees, so they are ordering signs displaying each soldier's name with yellow ribbons and placing them on poles lining one of the main streets in Oakwood.
Legion members hung the first six signs on Monday, including one for Voorhees.
His mom saw the sign for the first time Tuesday morning.
"I'm very pleased, very proud, " she said. "I think it's great that people in the community and the legion remember our servicemen and women who aren't present in the town because of active duty."
Cheri Voorhees plans to take a picture of the sign and send it to her son.
"I just think it's wonderful for all of our GI's, but I'm especially proud for my son," she said.
Another sign displays the name of Teresa Thompson, an Illinois National Guard member who has spent time in Afghanistan training police. She's also the youngest of five daughters of Ray Thompson, commander of the Oakwood American Legion, who helped hang signs Monday.
Ray Thompson, a Korean war veteran who spent nine years in the Army and 21 in the National Guard, said the legion wants to spread the word in the Oakwood, Muncie, Fithian and Fairmount areas that they are looking for the names of all active-duty military members so signs can be ordered and placed with the others along Oakwood Street in Oakwood.
Chuck Mercer, adjutant at the post, said they want names of active duty members whether they are deployed or not.
"We don't distinguish where they are as long as they are on active duty," Mercer said. "This is just to honor the people who take their time to serve their country. We want to take notice of those who are making the sacrifice, and their families, to serve our country."
The legion members are asking that names of active duty service members from the area, generally within the Oakwood school district, be submitted at local designated sites, including the Oakwood Laundromat, Oakwood McDonald's, Oakwood Library, United Community Bank of Oakwood, Casey's or the Muncie post office.
Mercer said they don't want to miss anyone.
Names, and accompanying information, including branch of service and city, can also be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The post is celebrating its 90th anniversary this week with a reception tonight.
The group has been making a concerted effort to grow again and pursue more activities, Thompson said, and the signs reflect that effort. The group also delivered 20 pairs of men's shoes to the veterans hospital in Danville recently.
The post does not have its own building and meets at the fire station, but had 200 members at one time and a low of seven. Membership is growing again with 17 now, Thompson said, and several more will be joining this week.
Mercer said the legion was actually started overseas, by its founding members in France during World War I in April 1920. He said one of the legion members has been doing some research to pull together those facts and other threads of the post's history.
"We're trying to revive a lot of things," he said.