I recall in my youth (during the 60s) my aunt and uncle used to take my sister and I to the VFW post in Covington, OH. They'd have a live band, people would get out on the floor and square dance through the night, until I could barely hold my eyes open any longer. My uncle Stan, a WWII veteran, loved showing off his niece and nephew to all that made their rounds to the table.
The highlight of the evening for us was the hotdogs with everything on them, a bag a chips, and coke in a glass bottle in those days. Of course people would get a kick out of us kids out on the dance floor with the best of them. But in those days, this was the highlight of entertainment for miles around.
Then somewhere along the way, the dances stopped. Probably gradually, but today it just seems they stopped all together. When Uncle Stan would take me around the posts to sign the books, some veterans would raise the issues about kids shouldn't be in a canteen. I never seen fist fly, but words I wasn't allowed to repeat back then definitely filled the air.
Then as I grew older, conversation in the post centered around a nation torn as our involvement in Vietnam heightened. Pot smoking, baby killers, references were made following all that Walter Conkrite had to offer on the evening news. From this point on, the atmosphere in our post seemed to disintegrate with the differing of opinions amongst the members. Some just threw up their hands and never returned. Others seemed to thrive on the debate. But the image in a little boys mind watching these grown men and women arguing amongst themselves has never left me.
A year after Vietnam, I joined the Navy, and turned it into a 20 year career. Uncle Stan and his wife are gone now, and I may be a lifetime member thanks to their influence, but can't help but think, unless the post welcomes these family members, to include the children, back into their post with open arms, a lot more post are destined to fold. The veteran while on active duty was supported by a family. The family unit is the key. In a post, we are family!