On Thanksgiving, There are Seats at the Table for Those in Need in Chapel Hill

Thanksgiving is a time for showing kindness to those who are lonely, or less fortunate than some of us.

Here in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area, there are plenty of organizations offering food and companionship to people who could use a break on Thursday.

“While many of us have an awful lot to be thankful for, and are able to supply a holiday meal for our families and our friends, there are a lot of people in the community who just don’t have that option,” said John Dorward, executive director of the Inter-Faith Council.

The IFC has a lot planned for Thanksgiving Day.

“We will have a Thanksgiving meal served, with turkey and all the trimmings at the Community Kitchen,” said Dorward. “The United Church here in Chapel Hill has done that for a number of years, and they’ll be coming back over to the community shelter and doing that again this year.”

The Community Kitchen is located at 100 West Rosemary Street in Chapel Hill. In addition, 350 families will receive a turkey and all the fixin’s needed for a holiday meal from the food pantry on Main Street in Carrboro.

Homeless veterans will benefit from a holiday food drive co-sponsored by the American Legion Post on Legion Raod in Chapel Hill and UNC’s Carolina Veterans Organization.

American Legion Post Commander Lee Heavlin credits the CVO for doing the hard work.

What they’ve done is reached out to students and local people, and small businesses, and large businesses, to provide non-perishable foods that they, in turn, are going to distribute to the TABLE in Carrboro, and to the Carolina Food Bank for Eastern and Central North Carolina.”

The TABLE is a non-profit group that provides food to children in need.

Loneliness can be a hardship around this time of year, too.

For the second year in a row, The Carolina Club is doing something this Thanksgiving for UNC students that can’t make it home that day.

The restaurant is ready to provide hundreds of meals for out-of-state and international students, in partnership with the UNC Office of Student Affairs, the Student Leadership Advisory Committee, and the Educational Foundation.

For more information on that event, call 919-962-9578.


American Legion Post 6 Stays Put, At Least For Now

An American Legion post commander said that Chapel Hill residents shouldn’t expect to see a “For Sale” sign in front of the Post 6 building on Legion Road any time soon.

Post Commander Lee Heavlin said that a publicized meeting this past Thursday night allowed members to discuss the future of the 8,378-square-foot building at 1714 Legion Road.

But it was not, he said, even close to being a vote on whether to sell, as some people seem to believe.

“We asked the permission of the members to investigate different kinds of ideas on what we can do to make our post the best post possible in the area for our local veterans,” said Heavlin.

The building is more than 50 years old. The executive members of Post 6 figure that around $500,000 worth of repairs and renovations are needed.

“That post has seen better days,” said Heavlin. “Our question is: OK, in order to fix it up, it’s going to cost at least a quarter of a million dollars. And so, is that the best use of our money?”

Fixing it up is one option. The committee has come up with four others. Post 6 could just decide to do nothing. The post could, perhaps, exist without a physical home.

Thirty-one acres of the property could be sold, and Post 6 could build something new on the remaining four.

Or, the American Legion post could sell the whole thing and move.

Exploring some of those options involves talking to outside sources, and Heavlin said executive members wanted permission from all members first.

Heavlin said that all five options will be researched over the next year. At some point, he said, the committee will come to members with a recommendation to vote on.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools has expressed interest in the property, according to Heavlin.


American Legion Post 6 Mulls Relocation, Property Sale

American Legion Post 6 of Chapel Hill is considering a change of location after more than a half-century at its Legion Road address.

Post Commander Lee Heavlin recently announced that a September 18 Special General Membership Meeting will include a discussion and vote on authorization to evaluate five options for 1714 Legion Road.

The five options include:

• continuing to operate the post, but without a physical home;
• selling the property but retaining four acres to build a new post;
• selling the property and relocating the post;
• doing nothing, or
• spending an estimated $500,000 on needed upgrades and repairs to the building.

Post 6 built its current 8,378-square-foot home on 35 acres when it moved from its original building on Rosemary Street.

According to Orange County records, Post 6 purchased the Legion Road property in January of 1961.

The total value of the property is now at $2.4 million, according to a 2013 estimate.


Remembering The Date That Lives In Infamy

CHAPEL HILL – “A date which will live in infamy” as then President of the United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt called it.

It’s been 72 years since the surprise attack by the Japanese on the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

American Legion Post 6 Commander Lee Heavlin said the local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars gathered Friday night and took a moment to remember the more  than 2,200 Americans who died during the attack.

“It’s important that we as veterans keep what happened alive,” Heavlin said.

Intended to neutralize the US Pacific Fleet, the attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy led to the United States’ entry into World War II.

World War II veteran Major Everett “Bud” Hampton, who served in the Marine Corp, said that though years have passed, the memory of the moment he found out the news of Pearl Harbor remains clear.

“I was at my girlfriend’s house on Sunday afternoon,” Hampton said. “It took everyone by surprise, not even knowing where Pearl Harbor was.”

Hampton said what happened at Pearl Harbor motivated him to enlist. He participated in four major operations while serving in the Pacific Ocean theater.

The air attack on Pearl Harbor came in two waves of Japanese fighters, bombers and torpedo planes. The first wave targeted “Battleship Row,” on the east side of Ford Island. All eight U.S. Navy battleships were damaged, of which four were sunk.

“I’m in awe. I’m in awe. When you think about all the men on these ships—hundreds and hundreds of people,” Heavlin said. “Each ship is literally a small town. To lose that, in massive numbers in the early morning when everyone was sitting back and relaxing for Sunday—it was tough. It was tough.”

Heavlin said the Veterans of Foreign Wars will commemorate the anniversary of Pearl Harbor while participating in several holiday parades this weekend.

He said it is now up to a new generation to remember and honor those who died in the attack.

“From the older generation, we’ve lost a lot of World War II veterans. Some of the children of World War II veterans are now senior citizens themselves,” Heavlin said.

The attack lasted less than two hours but took a heavy toll on the Pearl Harbor Naval Base. In addition to the four battleships that were sunk, 188 aircraft were destroyed. For its part, Japan lost 64 men and 29 planes, according to Time Magazine.


Take Home Treasures To Support Post 6 on Saturday

CHAPEL HILL- Take home some treasures and support a good cause on Saturday when the American Legion veterans  host a yard sale to benefit Chapel Hill’s Legion Post 6.

Post Commander Lee Heavlin says there’s something for everyone at the sale.

“We’ve got knicks and knacks, a nice high-post bed, bicycles, lawn mulchers, jewelry, collectibles, you name it,” says Heavlin. “And we’ve got in all inside so people can come in, stay cool, look around and pick out their treasures.”

Proceeds go to maintaining and improving the Post, which is used by veterans, Boy Scouts and the wider community.

The event runs from 8 a.m to 1 p.m. Saturday at the American Legion Post 6 on Legion Road. Click here for more information.


Why Do They Do It?

Memorial Day is over and it was well celebrated by many citizens in our community. Lots of work went into the activities and more than a few lent their time and energy to make all of the events a success. Why do they do it, some may wonder. There’s really a pretty simple answer; they do it because they care!

Who’s “they?” They are the members and the auxiliaries of The Veterans of Foreign Wars, C.V. Cummings Chapel Hill Post 9100 and American Legion Post 6 and community volunteers. Each year they work long hours to ensure that Memorial Day is properly celebrated and that those who died in battle are properly remembered.

Planning begins early to make the event a smooth and efficient operation. On the Saturday before Memorial Day, Boy Scouts, veterans and family members gathered early in the morning at Chapel Hill Memorial Cemetery to drape flags on more than 500 graves of local service men and women. When they completed the task, they conducted a short, public memorial service in the cemetery with the help of the Boy Scouts.

Later Saturday morning, The Veterans of Foreign Wars distributed poppies at University Mall from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The tradition of handing out poppies goes back almost 100 years and the poppies are now the symbol for the Veterans of Foreign Wars in remembrance of those who have served and died. Made by hospitalized veterans, the VFW believes that handing out the flowers with a simple “please remember” message is very effective.

On Memorial Day, another brief memorial service at the cemetery started the day’s events. The American Legion Post held an open house from 10-11 a.m. and there were tables laden with scrapbooks, military equipment, and memorabilia, all watched over by a variety of uniforms and photos hanging on the walls. The formal program started at 11 a.m.

This year, the Orange County Sheriff’s Color Guard presented the colors. After an opening prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance, Ms. Cathy Klein sang the National Anthem. As is their tradition, there was a reading of British Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae’s 1915 poem, “In Flanders Field.

The guest speaker for this year was Colonel Saul Strauss, U.S. Army (Retired). As a World War II veteran, Colonel Strauss shared his battlefield experiences treating the wounded, irrespective of their uniform; he just treated people, he said. Following his presentation Mr. Markos Simopoulos provided a rendition of “America the Beautiful. The program leaders then dedicated a wreath and conducted a very stirring “Two Bell Ceremony” in tribute to the departed.

After retiring the colors and the closing prayer, guest observed the wreath that was placed at the flagpole. In spite of the heat, people gathered wherever they could find some shade to hear a concert by The Village Band and visit the display tables organizations set up. To satisfy the hungry crowd, Boy Scout Troop 835 prepared hot dogs and served drinks provided by The Chapel Hill Magazine again this year.

Yes, it took a lot of planning to make all of the moving parts come together to properly honor our fallen heroes and heroines, and all of those who made it all come together should be proud, especially VFW Commander, Master Chief Petty Officer Lee Heavlin and Robert Patton, Adjutant, VFW Post 9100.

So why do they do it? They think it is important to do it. They know we must remember and teach the true meaning of Memorial Day. They served. They care.

What do you think?