Thank You, Veterans of Many Wars Brick by brick, Lions in Toledo, Washington, are showing their appreciation for the military service of men and women who have served their country. Jake Morgan, who joined the club in 2011 and whose father, Mike, is president, says, “I see a lot of familiar names when I visit our veterans’ wall, including three Morgan family members who served in World War II. “When I see the more than 300 names on our wall of honor, it reminds me that every veteran who served our country is important, just as any brick wall is more than the sum of its bricks.” Lions are passionate about honoring those who’ve served. “We Lions feel that our veterans need more praise and feeling of reconnection,” points out Bob Schmid, who served in the Navy in the 1950s. He and his brother Ron, of California, both have purchased engraved bricks. Lions built the freestanding wall without the help of state, federal or grant funds. They cut and sold firewood, manned fireworks stands, held a three-day Cheese Days festival, and are still selling bricks at $100 each. Lion Kendall Richardson volunteered his time and construction company to help build the wall and landscape its surrounding area. “This wall will withstand anything, including high flood waters,” Richardson says. It’s built to last, and the reinforced foundation wall will support more weight as additional bricks are added. The names of living or deceased honorees, dates of service and insignias of the appropriate military branches in which each served are laser-inscribed on each medium-red brick. The names cover a lot of history and many conflicts. A soldier named Norman Burbee is recognized for fighting in the Washington Indian Uprising of 1855. One honoree is a Civil War Union soldier named Brigham Buswell. Another is a local man who disappeared in Laos in 1968. “I’ve found that the reaction of people seeing their own names or the names of loved ones is somber. Some place their hands on the brick, some stare and some walk around reading the writing on the bricks, enjoying the history that comes with them,” Schmid points out. While the wall has room for 2,000 bricks eventually, so far there are only a few hundred in place. The entire wall cost approximately $20,000 to build in the city’s centrally located Kemp Olson Memorial Park. Schmid says Lions do most of the maintenance and landscaping work themselves, so it’s an ongoing project. “The Toledo Lions love building projects,” adds Morgan. “It’s our way of saying thank-you to all veterans, past and present.” For further information, visit www.toledolionsclub.org/veteranswall.html. Trees to Stand Tall Again Once among the most prolific trees growing throughout the eastern part of the United States, American chestnut trees have dwindled from many millions to a few thousand because of a fungal blight that first began in the early 1900s. When members of the Frederick, Maryland, Lions Club were asked to participate in a tree planting effort coordinated by the Appalachian Laboratory, part of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, they immediately agreed. American chestnut trees, as tall as 100 feet, were once desired as a top lumber source, and the chestnuts were prized as a nutritional treat. Environmentalists are now trying to reintroduce the species, once known as the “Redwood of the East,” to its native habitat. “The geographic area in which District 22 W Lions are was once the heart of the American chestnut range in Maryland. The seeds and seedlings used for this particular project come from four surviving trees in Maryland,” says Frederick Lion Joe Foster. Other district clubs also participated. The Citizens Restoring the American Chestnut project is designed to learn how seedlings and seeds survive in a variety of terrains. “Semiannually, the new tree owners, about 140 strong, will let the Appalachian Lab know when the first leaves are seen, when they change color and when they drop. Other physical characteristics will be recorded with the location of each tree mapped on a global view computer network,” Foster explains. Foster and his local church joined forces to plant four seedlings and four seeds on church grounds. “The hope is to come up with a blight-resistant American chestnut. There was no cost to participants for the trees and seeds,” he says. “The project depends on ‘citizen-scientists’ to monitor the trees for growth and endurance.” To learn more about efforts to promote American chestnut trees, visit www.acf.org. Angling for Fun Since Lions are the only service club organization in the small community of Falls, Pennsylvania, John Headley says members keep extraordinarily busy either planning projects or carrying them out. Most focus on children. They sponsor an Easter egg hunt and Halloween and Christmas parties, but for the past four years a fishing tournament has been one of the most eagerly-awaited events. Just as many girls as boys bait their hooks and throw in their lines. “We started by stocking trout in a local creek but decided to hold the event at a pond,” Headley says. They moved the tournament when they learned some parents wanted the shift for safety. Last year, 54 children and their families fished and enjoyed free hot dog lunches served by Lions. “During the four hours of the tournament there was a constant line of kids at the measuring station,” Headley says. Since Lions stocked the pond with hundreds of bluegills and largemouth bass, the youngsters were jumping as much as the fish. Many of the children quickly released their catch back into the pond, but several took their catch home to be cooked by parents. The kids’ screams of excitement may have scared some fish away, but Headley says parents’ admonishments to cast their lines quietly had no effect on the enthusiastic anglers. “At the rate they were pulling in fish, the chatter and bantering became contagious enough that it quickly involved parents, too.”
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