HJ/EDHerald Journal, Nov. 21, 2005

New Germany Legion: continuing a legacy of service

By Jenni Sebora

Lowell Stender of New Germany gave his life for his country, and his legacy of service lives on through the New Germany Legion Post 601, which was formed after Stender’s death in 1946. The post presently numbers about 30 members.

Auxiliary President Darlene Unglaub remembers when Post 601 got its start.

“My husband, Leonard, has been a member of the Legion for 60 years,” Unglaub said.

“He served in the military as a truck driver for four years without a furlough. He was in Hawaii, then was sent to Japan – Pearl Harbor, to basically clean up,” Unglaub said of her husband’s service in the military.

While serving as a truck driver in Japan, Leonard was summoned by military authority to deliver something to the airport at 2 or 3 a.m., wife Darlene noted.

“It was very secretive. They would not tell him what was in the back of the truck that he was to deliver. A few days later, when Japan was bombed and the war was over, he found out it was an atomic bomb (in the back of the truck),” Darlene said.

The Lowell Stender American Legion provides color guard assembly for funerals and parades and commemorates Memorial Day by holding a Memorial Day program.

Unglaub noted that the Legion and auxiliary rotate the main ceremony each year at one of the four area cemeteries, St. Mark’s in New Germany, Zion in Mayer, St. John’s Lutheran in Hollywood, and the Crow River Cemetery.

“The main ceremony is held at one of the four cemeteries, which we rotate yearly, and then we, the Legion and auxiliary, visit the other cemeteries after the main ceremony,” Unglaub explained.

At each cemetery, flags are placed to honor the deceased veterans, and the Legion and auxiliary members, clad in uniform, march and pay their respects. After the programs, all those members who participated, including the pastor and his wife, gather together at an area restaurant for dinner and fellowship, Unglaub noted.

“Each Legion and auxiliary member pays $5 for the dinner, and the Legion pays the rest, including the pastor’s and his wife’s dinner,” Unglaub said.

The Legion also provides wheelchairs, crutches, and walkers for anyone that has a need, donates flags to the area schools, sells American flags, and sponsors a high school male junior from an area school to attend Boys State.

Recently started by the New Germany Legion is a support group for anyone who has family in the military.

The support group, spearheaded by Stan and Sandy Heldt, whose son, Charlie, is leaving soon to serve in Iraq, meets in the Legion room in the New Germany City Hall. It is a place where parents can share experiences about what their sons and daughters are going through while in service, Sauerbrey noted.

“At one meeting, we had a young woman, who had served in Kuwait and shared her experiences with the group,” Sauerbrey said.

“There are many people who have never gone through the experience, and we can support them because we have been there before,” Sauerbrey said.

Both Sauerbrey and Stan Heldt attend the meetings to support the parents, as well.

The Legion meets the first Monday of the month, October through June at 7 p.m. in the New Germany City Hall in the Legion room.

Lowell Stender Unit 601 American Legion Auxiliary

About 13 members strong, Auxiliary Unit 601 meets the first Monday of the month, October through June, to serve veterans.

The auxiliary supports the Legion in the Memorial Day services and with the turkey bingo by serving coffee and hamburgers in the kitchen at the New Germany City Hall.

It also offers poppies for donation on Poppy Day, gives to various charitable organizations and food shelves, and gives literature to children in the area schools.

In fact, one of the goals of the Minnesota American Legion and Auxiliary is “to help children realize their full potential.”

In the 1995-96 reporting year, American Legion posts spent more than $5.1 million on programs to help America’s young, including teenage suicide and drug abuse prevention, missing children, and many others, according to the website, www.mnLegion.org.

The American Legion also established the Child Welfare Foundation in 1954 as a separate corporation to fund efforts that deal with problems affecting children.

The only source of income for the foundation comes from contributions by individual members of the Legion families, which includes the Legion, the Auxiliary, the Eight and Forty, and the Sons of The American Legion. Last year, grants totaling nearly $300,000 were awarded to many various not-for-profit programs for children, the website noted.

Unit 601 Auxiliary meets in the New Germany City Hall as well, in the basement. New members are welcome.

Annual Turkey Bingo

Every Tuesday before Thanksgiving, which this year will be Nov. 22, the Legion sponsors Turkey Bingo at the New Germany City Hall.

The event will begin at 7:30 p.m. Prizes include a turkey, a goose, and sausage, along with cash prizes.

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