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I recently read an article written by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) national commander who asked: “Who will fill our shoes?” or put another way, “Who will take our place?”

He was referring to the fact that many VFW members were getting older and new members were not stepping forward to replace them. In that context, the future of the VFW and other service, veterans and fraternal organizations is in doubt.

In fact, in the last few years, the Hamilton VFW and the Darby post of the American Legion have ceased to exist, and active membership in many, if not most, service, veterans and fraternal organizations has declined dramatically. “So What” you may ask?

Well, from my own experience with the Hamilton Lions Club and Post 47 of the American Legion, I can only suggest that had there not been a Lions Club here in the Valley, the Alta Cabin would not have been saved, Blodgett Park would not exist, bleachers at Haynes athletic field would not have been erected, there would be no Lions bingo at the fair, and hundreds of our fellow citizens would not have received life changing sight and hearing assistance. If there were no American Legion Post, there would be no American Legion Park, no American Legion baseball, no Boys and Girls State, no Honor Guard for veterans events and burials, etc.

Yes, I know life would continue, but the community support provided by those service, veterans and fraternal organizations that don’t survive will be sorely missed. If those organizations disappear after decades of service to our community, what and who will fill the void? Will you?

If you believe community service is important to our quality of life, and if you believe that a service, veterans or fraternal organization is worthy of your participation and support, I urge you to step forward and help continue what others who came before us started. Ultimately, the quality of life in our community depends on those who will take our place.

— Dan Rothlisberger, Hamilton

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