BOB MITCHELL OZARK VIEWS AND COMMENTS
There will be no parades in Cassville to mark the occasion, but Friday, November 11 is Veterans Day. While this may not be important to some, for the approximately 3,000 Barry Countians, living or deceased, who have served in the armed forces of this country, it may bring back memories, some they may appreciate, of others that they would have forgotten just as quickly.
According to the Missouri Veterans Commission and the Veterans Administration, these county veterans are those who served in wartime, not peacetime.
Of this total number, agencies estimate that 5% were in World War II or 150 are still alive, 300 are from the Korean War or 10%. These are the statistics for 2013. There were no World War I veterans living in the county.
From the VA for the year before these numbers, there were approximately 3,500 veterans listed in the county. Vietnam veterans residing in the county are estimated at 1,020.
Veterans’ organizations also estimate that Barry County is home to 780 veterans from the period from the Gulf War to the current conflicts at 780. According to the figures provided, approximately 10% of Barry County’s population served their country in time of war.
The numbers in the membership roles of veterans organizations indicate that these veterans are not participating in these functions as they once did.
First World War
The absence of World War I numbers is evident due to the age they had reached before their deaths.
The last three of this community were significant in the way they had served not only in the military but also in Cassville. JA (Pop) Blalack, Chevrolet dealer, held the most IDC stock and was the American Legion’s financial benefactor signing the banknote when the post was built. Charley Riddle, cobbler, was a longtime councilman and school board member, involved in some of Cassville’s early progress. Charley Willis, insurance man, not a native of Cassville, but who immersed himself in local activities and advancements throughout his life. Probably sang at more funerals than any other male member of the community.
Whether or not you can believe this is happening in this small community of Cassville, there were profiteers during the World War!! who made his fortune on the fact that rationed or hard-to-obtain items could be sold if the buyer agreed to pay a high price. The practice was known throughout the community and, as in other communities in the country, it was only affected if the violations were on a large scale. While there was a happy part of the marketing practices of a number of items, some entities over the next few years received funds that would never have been available through other means.
Those in Barry County did not always have a choice of service, especially during World War II, when the Selective Service System, or county drafting boards, gave them a grade and then a possible call-up based on requirements of the armed forces. Practically from that moment, the country’s armed forces relied on volunteer status for their personnel. Recruitment of soldiers, sailors and airmen has not been necessary in more recent military actions.
The flags will fly
On streetlights, businesses and homes, the flag of the United States of America will fly on Veterans Day to remember those, living and deceased, who gave of themselves for humanity, at home and on other shores, can face a better life. The Irwin-Easley American Legion post in Cassville will once again display flags on streetlights on the city’s main streets.
Back when the Irwin-Easley American Legion was extremely active in the community, Veterans Day signaled an early wake-up call for the post kitchen crew to put breakfast on the stove at the post for all the inhabitants of the region. It didn’t matter if the person served in the armed forces or not, breakfast was on the job.
There were several who could be counted on to do their usual duty that day. When the post failed a year, Harry Stephens and I agreed to cook breakfast if we could use the kitchen in the Legion home. Permission was not given by the administration in charge, so the event was abandoned, just like many interesting events in the community.
Display your flag
Cassville could become a featured city for a special Veterans Day in 2022, if people make the effort to have a United States of America flag in their homes or businesses.
Sets are readily available, or any member of the American Legion can find one for the person wishing to join the flag flyers on this special day. It is also appropriate to place a small American flag on the grave of those who served in the army of this country.
Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat. He is a 2017 inductee into the Missouri Press Association Hall of Fame and the Missouri Southern State University Regional Media Hall of Fame.