"Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live, taking the form of readiness to die." -G.K. Chesterton

ADA - For this upcoming Veteran's Day, Sunday, Nov. 11, what better "Salute to Ada's Treasures" than to salute our local veterans? The Ream McElroy VFW Post 9381 seemed the most obvious place to spotlight.

The VFW of America traces its roots back to 1899 after the Spanish-American War. At that time, many veterans returned home wounded or sick with no medical care or veteran's pension. Veterans came together to create local organizations for the purpose of securing rights and benefits for their service, which would eventually become known as posts for Veterans of Foreign Wars.

The VFW of Ada was named after Sgt. Robert Ream and PFC Neil McElroy, both of whom were killed in World War II. After the recognition of Korean and Vietnam Wars, membership grew and a new larger building was built just north of Ada on State Route 235 with the majority of construction done by veterans themselves.

First year Commander, Jack Williams, nephew of McElroy and a Vietnam Veteran, has a desire to reach out to those who have served and are actively serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"They need to know that we are here for them", Williams explains. "The VFW has a lot to offer not just the soldiers, but their families too. The biggest misconception about the VFW is that it's just a bar for men."

The VFW strives to be family-friendly holding a Fish Fry and Steak Fry monthly and several events through the year that include children and grandchildren of members. Military families are always welcomed to hot meals at very reasonable prices Tuesday through Saturday evenings.

Williams has been supportive in making the VFW more visible and accessible in the community. Recently, volunteers from the VFW manned a membership booth at Harvest and Herb Festival and honored veterans at the first home Ohio Northern University football game complete with a fighter jet fly-over. Members also annually pull together to maintain bragging rights with their Agent Orange trebuchet at the Mid-West National Punkin Chunkin Championships. The Men's Auxiliary Color Gaurd is available for any veteran, member or not, to perform military honors at funerals.

Membership is not exclusive to those in Ada. The VFW in Ada has opened its doors to members from the many VFW posts in surrounding towns that have recently closed. With such a wide area of membership, their annual scholarship given to high school graduates extends to many different area schools.

The banquet hall at the VFW can accommodate up to 250 people and has been host to numerous charitible community events, most recently the "Hearts for Maria" Benefit to help pay for funeral costs of 6 year old Maria Suarez. The VFW hall can also be rented for wedding receptions, reunions, dances, etc. through sponsorship of a member.

The VFW not only is a place to foster camaraderie, but helps veterans and their families navigate the formal and informal services available to meet a variety of needs. Most importantly, as taken from the Nation VFW Vision Statement, the VFW is there to "ensure that veterans are respected for their service, always receive their earned entitlement, and are recognized for the sacrifices they and their loved ones have made on behalf of this great country."

If you are interested in becoming a member or would like to know more, please visit the website at www.adavfw.com, e-mail at ADAVFW@yahoo.com or call the Post at 419-634-5096.