BANGOR, Maine — The weather cooperated about as well as the 278 Veterans of Foreign Wars members and organizers of the 91st annual VFW Department of Maine Convention could have hoped as dark clouds and showers waited until Sunday morning to manifest themselves.
“It’s our biggest event of the year,“ said convention chairman and District 4 Cmdr. Ron Smith. “Our numbers were a little low this year, but I’m not sure why. We had a dinner-dance at the post Friday and a beautiful day for our barbecue Saturday.”
Smith was elected department surgeon for veterans while convention chairwoman Cindy Cowling was voted department senior vice president for the Ladies Auxiliary.
“We had sitting national president for the Ladies Auxiliary Cortina Barnes attend and address our members and she’s a dynamic speaker whose husband is from Maine,” Cowling said.
A check was presented to Maine Veterans’ Homes and a memorial service was held to honor all deceased veterans. Gov. Paul LePage, Bangor City Council chairwoman Susan Hawes, Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud addressed VFW members during Friday’s joint opening session.
“One of the biggest things was the patriotic rally we had Saturday at the Bangor VFW post,” said Smith. “It drew a large crowd.
“We did the final inspection with a poem written about a soldier standing before God in heaven and Melanie Saucier from Fort Kent sang patriotic songs.”
A check was presented for Maine Veterans’ Homes and a memorial service honoring all deceased veterans was held.
A Veterans Administration Mobile Vet Center was on site Friday and Saturday to assist veterans with accessing benefits and other concerns.
Issues discussed at the convention, which concluded Sunday morning at the Ramada Inn on the Odlin Road, included initiatives to protect veteran benefits, a legislative proposal to require the Pledge of Allegiance be recited in Maine public schools, supporting U.S. combat troops, ways to assist recent victims of tornadoes and floods in other states, and the provision of reading material to state veterans homes.