By Lisa Carolin
Chelsea VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) Post 4076 is active and meeting on the second Wednesday of every month at 7:30 p.m. The only change is that the meetings are now taking place at the Chelsea Senior Center.
“It just wasn’t worth having a separate building for monthly meetings so we voted to sell it,” says Harry Pendergrass, commander of VFW 4076, about their former meeting place on Main Street next to Gigi’s on North Main Street.
The three-story building sold immediately to Heydlauff’s Appliance, which gutted it and will use it as an extension to its downtown store.
VFW Post 4076 has between 80-90 members, who represent every war, starting with and including WWII.
“Anyone who has served in a combat zone is eligible to join the VFW,” says Pendergrass. “You have to have either a service medal from that zone or an armed forces expeditionary medal,” (the type of medal one received from service in the Cuban Missile crisis, for example.)
Pendergrass served in Vietnam.
“The VFW gives you a place to be with people who share experiences,” says Pendergrass. “People understand what you’re talking about because you can’t really understand being in combat until you’re there. You develop a camaraderie with veterans and extend that.”
(To become a member of the Chelsea American Legion, you have to have served in the military during a time of war, but you didn’t have to go to war.)
Pendergrass is going to be the commander of the County Council of Veterans, which will meet at the Chelsea Senior Center on Monday, Aug. 17 at 7:30 p.m. There are only two VFWs left in Washtenaw County-Post 4076, which covers Chelsea, Dexter and Manchester, and Ann Arbor Post 423.
“We give away at least 50 percent of our proceeds to charity,” says Pendergrass, and says the list of those to whom they donate includes the Chelsea Fair, Boy Scouts, and the VFW Cancer Fund. “We participate in the Memorial Day Parade, and some of us belong to the Veterans Honor Guard of Washtenaw County and participate in funerals.”
The VFW also participates in annual events such as the Patriots Pen essay contest for middle schools and the Voice of Democracy for high schools, where participants are asked to write and deliver a speech. The top three finishers in both contests receive several hundred dollars and get their essays submitted to the district competition.
VFW Post 4076 meetings are private. Anyone interested in becoming a member should contact Pendergrass at 313-909-3717.