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Gaffney: Time marches on

It was with great honor and humility that my daughter Kacie and I were able to again serve on Memorial Day in St. Charles, having played taps at six different venues at the request of American Legion Post 342 and VFW Post 5036.

During the last several years, I – along with my daughters Mary or Kacie – have enjoyed playing taps and honoring our veterans, both past and present.

It was sadly noted on Memorial Day by Mr. John DePauw and representatives of the VFW that the building erected after World War II would be sold June 14.

Because of the declining membership and maintenance issues with the VFW, representatives of the VFW agreed to sell the building and property to the city. Time indeed marches on, but a city and its citizenry should never forget its heritage and the sacrifices of earlier generations.

I was fortunate enough to have been born and raised in St. Charles and the grandson and son of past Post 342 Legion Cmdrs. Joseph C. Gaffney and Charles J. Gaffney.

Earlier I wrote of the sacrifice and service of St. Charles citizens in a book entitled “While They Were Young, A History of St. Charles and Her Service Personnel, 1940-1945,” and in researching and writing that book, I gained a great appreciation of all that the prior generation did for the present generation.

Being around the friends of my grandfather and dad taught me that the men and women who served in World War I and World War II were true patriots who never complained, worked hard and loved their country and community.

After the war, many contributed to the well being of their community through the American Legion and VFW.

Memorial Day is more than just a day off – it is the honoring of those who have paid a high price, many with their lives or returning with the injuries of war; many having served their country for love of neighbor and of God following the attack on Pearl Harbor.

In reviewing earlier photos of the VFW, one can sense the excitement and spirit of community as funds were raised for a worthy cause – building a home where returning veterans could find the welcome and warmth of a fellow serviceman or woman after April 1945.

The building holds so many irreplaceable memories, now preserved only in the few surviving members of that era and photos.

My prayer and hope is that the veterans and wounded warriors of our present wars will find a home either with the Legion or VFW. May God continue to bless both organizations, our community and country.

• Kevin J. Gaffney has served as president of the St. Charles Heritage Center and St. Charles Park Foundation. He is currently researching and writing a book about St. Charles and World War I and a pictorial of St. Charles during the World War II era, to be published early in 2014. 

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