Day dream: Every town in the River Valley votes by a landslide to adopt the Golden Rule as its top governing policy. Just think. No more back door deals. No more bullying rhetoric. Instead, civil discourse, balanced presentation of the facts in each case. Courtesy and respect.
A dream? Yes. But we need dreams to help us shape reality.
Besides, some dreams do come true, even if in surprising ways. Take Rumford’s American Legion Post 24. No doubt many members had long dreamed its proud history of service to our veterans and to the community would continue. Prospects weren’t looking good. Far from it.
On April 2, Bobby Richardson told me, “They came over from Waterville,” (site of Maine’s American Legion Department) that night and announced, “‘Some of you had better step up or, “we’ll pull your charter tonight!'”
Bobby Richardson stepped up to serve as post commander. Before the evening was out, Post 24 had an all-new command: Spencer Kaulback, first vice commander, Kirk Thurston, second vice commander; and Linda Richardson, financial officer.
For the 86-year-old post, this is a young team, 50 and under, and energetic. Their first priorities are establishing more efficient financial management and daily operations. Just as important, the command is working to reactivate the post’s membership.
What moved Bobby and the others to step up?
The post “has done a lot for Rumford. I wanted to give it a fighting chance,” Richardson said.
Like his counterpart, Commander Martineau of Dixfield’s Post 100, Richardson acknowledges that legion membership has dwindled. Rumford’s post is down to 664 from more than 1,100; Dixfield’s 113 today. The demise of World War II vets accounts for most of the loss.
Richardson, who served in the army in Granada, the Persian Gulf and Croatia, returned to his hometown in 2003.
He said he is proud of the post’s successful effort to bring the Veterans Administration clinic to Rumford. And he appreciates the role Rumford plays in the lives of older veterans like Larry Kerr, a Legion member for 59 years.
Post 24 serves youth, too. The 170 American Legion posts in the state work with the state’s central department in Waterville to bring hundreds of high school juniors together for the annual Boys State convention. Young men from all over Maine elect a mock state government, senators, governor, and all.
Richardson says there are 10 or 12 young men wanting to get to Boys State at USM/Gorham next month. Rumford’s American Legion Post 24 sent Spencer Kaulback to Boys State some 25 years ago. He’s working to make sure that boys get to go this year.
Linda Farr Macgregor is a freelance writer and author of “Rumford Stories.” Contact her at [email protected]