Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Marissa Kalb an 8th grade student from Broadmoor Junior High School in Pekin holds a plaque presented to her for her winning essay titled, "America's Constitutional Freedom" by Norma Walker, divisional President of the Ladies Auxiliary of American Legion Post 44 Tuesday evening.

Photos and Story by Tazewell County Museum's Internet Director Ed Emmons

The Ladies Auxiliary of American Legion Post 44 in Pekin held their Monthly Gold Star Banquet Tuesday evening. According to Post Commander Steve Saal, the Gold Star Banquet was started to honor mothers of members of the military who are killed in the line of duty.

The 168 ladies auxiliary members get together the 3rd Tuesday of each month, have a banquet dinner, entertainment, and in cases like Tuesday night, present a plaque to an essay winner. Tonight did not feature any mothers of those killed in the line of duty, but Peggy Meyer did attend. In 1950 her brother Pinkeith Bishop was killed during the Korean War,he was only 20 years old, and would have been 82 this year.

        Gold Star Sister Peggy Meyer poses after the Banquet, her brother Pinkeith Bishop was killed during the Korean War in 1950.

According to Commander Steven Saal,who is also the Superintendent for the Tazewell County Veterans Assistance Commission, membership for all Veterans groups has been dwindling in recent years. Besides the ladies Auxiliary group at the American Legion Post 44, the men meet on the 4th Tuesday of each month, in which they have 296 members, and the Sons of the Legion has 21 members.

According to Saal, the American Legion was started with An Act of Congress with different eligibility dates to become a member. To become a member you need a DD 214, which are discharge papers, meet the eligibility dates, and there are $35 dollar yearly dues.

             Marissa Kalb, 14, reads her winning essay, titled, "America's Constitutional Freedom", Tuesday evening at the American Legions ladies Auxiliary Gold Star Banquet

Here is Marissa's Kalb's Essay:

     Essay winner Marissa Kalb an 8th grade student from Broadmoor Junior High School poses here with her parents at the Ladies Auxiliary Gold Star Banquet Tuesday evening.

                           Plaque that was presented to Marissa Kalb

Entertainment for the evening was by singers Julianne Golan, a Senior at Pekin High School, and Seth Johnson, who just graduated from PCHS, and will be attending Bradley University in the fall. Piano was played by Seth's mother Patty Johnson. The pair sang as a duo and solo.

     Singers Julianne Golan and Seth Johnson perform during the Ladies Auxiliary of the American Legion Gold Star Banquet Tuesday evening. They ended with 'America the Beautiful'.

Theme of this Gold Star Banquet was 'Take your hats off to the Veterans'.  Christal Dagit, who is the President of the Tazewell County Museum and Educational Center told the group a little bit of what was going on with the War of 1812, and how later in the year that a ceremony was being planned for Governor Ninian Edwards whose stone is in disrepair in Springfield.

According to Steven Saal their are Memorial events being planned to honor the Veterans in Pekin. At 9.a.m. on Memorial Day there is a ceremony at Prairie Haven Cemetery on Veterans Drive, this will be conducted by the TACT team, Tazewell Area Ceremonial Team, with the help from Preston-Hanley Funeral Home for Veterans who are buried there, including Jordan Bastean, and Dean Shaffer, who both attended PCHS, participated in the JROTC program, and died 6 months apart in AfGhanistan.

Starting at 11:45 - 12:45, Mayor Laura Barra will MC ceremonies at both the Pekin Riverfront and at Lakeside Cemetery in Pekin.