On June 15th, 2017, a new day began for Rusty Edmister of Chapel Hill VFW Post 9100. It was a day of reflection in that on the day prior Rusty had completed another Oral History of a veteran–his 334th interview. No, that number is correct–334 individual interviews of service men and women.
With a miniature video camera, several extra tapes and a spare battery, he had headed off on June 14th to meet with a veteran. Rusty was on a quest. He often speaks of the many men and women he has met all over North Carolina and surrounding areas. Each has a unique story to tell. A story of their days, weeks, months, and maybe even years of military service.
He may receive a lead from a family member, another veteran, or through an encounter at a coffee shop, restaurant, civic event, or picnic. Veterans are everywhere, but not all of them wear a distinctive military or service ball cap, jacket, or mark their car with an “I’ve Served” bumper sticker. Wherever they are, Rusty is driven to meet them and tell them his story.
It’s the story of a retired IBM employee who served himself in the military. He had heard of a North Carolina Archives project to record oral histories and joined in that effort. He worked on it for more than a year and over 100 interviews. Now he continues his recordings, much like the fictional Songcatcher of North Carolina who scoured the mountains and hollers of North Carolina in a quest to record mountain music. The difference with Rusty is that his quest is very real and extremely important. It is a race against time and the impending loss of lives of our remaining World War II and Korean War veterans.
Each has a story to tell that will disappear with their passing. He “has to” capture their stories while there is time. Many children of those who served never really talk to their mother, father, sister or brother. Within the veteran there is a story, however slight, about their experiences. It may be about the time they were drafted and sent off to one of the hundreds of training centers, stations, and camps that dotted these United States of America. It might be the story of a volunteer that was rejected due to a medical condition before the war, but who was accepted once the draft call had his name on the local Draft Board’s list. Or, maybe, the story of a sailor who was sent off to a far away island to build an airfield or port in time to support arriving United States Marines working their way towards Japan. There are lots and lots of unrecorded stories.
But there is a worse story. It is the story of a son or grandchild who realizes that Pops, Gramps, Uncle Bill, or Aunt Stella passed away. They’ll be sitting on a porch, at a beach, be in school or at home, when the phone rings or they get a FaceBook or Twitter alert. Time does not wait and Rusty, as well as his fellow veterans, have heard the sorrowful stories of an opportunity unfulfilled. This is what drives Rusty and other veterans to record oral histories. Time will not wait. It’s time to capture another story.
Our Post is very proud to have Rusty Edmister as a member. He epitomizes the drive and dedication former servicemen or women have to make a difference in their community. We hope that you will contact Rusty Edmister and let him know that you know of a veteran with a story to tell. Rusty will drive most anywhere in the state (and neighboring states, too) to conduct the interview. He will also give the veteran multiple copies of the interview on DVDs (one for the veteran and each of his or her family members), and will ensure a copy is placed in a historical reference library or archive.
The cost? Nothing. Not a penny. Rusty receives his reward in knowing that he made a difference and that he was able to save a little bit of the history of one who served his Country. You can email Rusty by clicking here.
Mark was a strong supporter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9100, attending many of our special civic events, promoting post member events and trips, and so much more. He has been a pillar of strength to our post and will be very much missed. Mark was also the recipient of France’s distinguished medal, The Legion of Honor.
A memorial service will be held on Tuesday, June 27, 2017 at 2:00 pm at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 210 St. Mary’s Road, Hillsborough. Burial with military honors will follow in the church cemetery.
The family will receive visitors Monday evening from 5-7 pm at Hall-Wynne Funeral Home, 1113 W. Main Street, Durham, NC 27701. Memorials may be directed St.. Matthew’s Memorial Fund, the Snow Camp Outdoor Theatre, 301 Drama Road, Snow Camp, NC 27349, or to American Legion Post No. 6, P.O. Box 2323, Chapel Hill, NC 27515.
Please wear your VFW Cap to the funeral or viewing. Let the family know that his comrades are there.
To read Mark’s complete obituary, please click on this link: http://www.hallwynne.
After the funeral, I will share with you photos of Mark in action with veterans. I will also add him to the list of distinguished local veterans on this site and on the Orange County Veterans Memorial website at http:/www.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is now accepting entries into its 2017-18 Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen youth scholarship competitions. The announcement comes after students from across the globe recently took home their share of more than $3.3 million in scholarships and awards from last year’s competitions.
The VFW’s Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen essay competitions are dedicated to encouraging a better understanding and appreciation of America, and to help foster patriotism among today’s youth. Students are required to submit an oral or written essay in response to a question or statement on a subject which prompts them to consider how American history and democratic ideals and principles apply to their lives.
This year’s Voice of Democracy theme asks high school students to describe, “American History: Our Hope for the Future.” Voice of Democracy is an audio-essay competition open to students in grades 9-12. The national winner is presented the $30,000, T.C. Selman Memorial Scholarship award. More than 46,000 high school students competed in last year’s competition.
The Patriot’s Pen writing competition is open to students in grades 6-8. This year, students are asked to reflect on the statement, “America’s Gift to My Generation.” The national winner will receive a $5,000 award. More than 122,000 middle and junior high school students competed in last year’s competition. Both national awards will be presented during the 2018 VFW Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., in March.
Student participants are asked to submit their entry (along with a completed entry form) to Chapel Hill Post 9100 your local host VFW Post. Chapel Hill accepts entries from Chapel Hill and surrounding area. The deadline for student entries in both contests is October 31, 2017.
Our Post often gets inquiries about veterans memorial services, flags, and funeral honors for a departed family member. It is usually just before a planned service. At our meetings we often talk about this situation and how to better assist families in need.
The VA provides cemetery plots for all honorably discharged veterans. This includes the opening of the grave, burial, and funeral honors and presentation of a flag to the family. There is no cost to the family. There are procedures to follow and they are fairly easy to accomplish. You can even apply on-line for Pre-Need Burial Eligibility. To learn more, CLICK HERE.
We encourage all veterans to have a discussion with their family about their desires. This includes the memorial service and location of wills, special instructions, and their Record of Discharge and Release from Active Duty (DD Form 214). The DD Form 214 proves entitlement. Lost or misplaced DD Form 214’s can be obtained from the National Archives. You do not have to hire anyone to obtain a veteran’s DD Form 214. It is a no cost service, but it will take time to obtain. Do not wait. Keep this important document with the veteran’s important papers.
Of course, preparation and transportation of a veteran’s remains or cremains are not a service of the VA.
Veterans are encouraged to join the Veterans of Foreign Wars and our post. There are many opportunities to serve local veterans and their families. We need active veterans to provide assistance and serve on committees that provide scholarships, help veterans, provide advice and assistance, and more. Contact us to join and make a difference where it counts.
We are very proud to announce that our local and district Patriot’s Pen Competition is now complete. The Chapel Hill winner of the essay contest is Miss Amelia J. Solum. Miss Solum is a resident of Chapel Hill and is a student at McDougle Middle School.
As our Post’s First Place winner, Miss Solum will receive a special certificate of recognition and a cash scholarship award of $100. In addition, Amelia will join the local veterans for dinner and have an opportunity to read her winning essay to them.
The topic of this year’s contest is “The America I Believe In.” Miss Solum was entered into district finals and took FIRST PLACE for District 6. Her essay is now being judged in a state-wide competition with winners soon to be announced. The state winner will compete in a Veterans of Foreign Wars National contest.
The Patriot’s Pen contest is an annual contest and is open to students in the 6th through 8th grade. We encourage all students, including home schooled students, to compete. Chapel Hill has sponsored students that have won district and state contests. Why not consider entering in the Fall?
We have been holding back on announcing local winners for post essay and speech contests until after the district level winners were selected. That has happened and we now can proudly announce our Chapel Hill Voice of Democracy winner.
It is Miss Savannah R. Dowden of Chapel Hill. Savannah is a student of Carrboro High School. As the Chapel Hill Post 9100 winner, the post is hosting her and her family at their January 3rd meeting at the American Legion Post Home in Chapel Hill.
Miss Dowden will join the post members for dinner and will present her winning oral essay on My Responsibility to America. Miss Dowden will receive a cash prize of $100 and competed in district competition in December.
District 6 is very proud to announce district competition winners for both the Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen Contests for 2017. The winners and their sponsoring posts are:
1st Place Laura Jones Mebane Post 1920
2nd Place Michael Slaton Henderson Post 2417
3rd Place Litao Tu Durham Post 2740
2nd place Maggie McLean Bass Butner Post 10777
3rd place Aaren C Capilitan Durham 2740
District winners receive a certificate and a small award. All first place winners will now compete in a state-wide competition and the winning contestants will compete in the National Finals. We extend our congratulations to all winners and look forward to one or more winning state and national recognition.
It gives us great pleasure to announce the winner of our 2016 raffle. Margaret Hutchins of Carrboro, a good personal friend of Rusty Edmister’s (a member veteran and member of the post), had her stub drawn from the hermetically sealed container this afternoon before three witnesses. Rusty will deliver the basketball tickets and take some photos so we can post them to the website.
We thank the purchasers of the 350 tickets for their support of our Veterans Relief Fund. At just ten dollars a ticket for a chance to win two season tickets for every at home basketball game (including Duke vs. UNC) is a great value.
See you again next fall as we setup our kiosk by the Historic Chapel Hill Downtown Post Office three hours before every Tar Heel home football game.