ROCK SPRINGS — About 60 people participated in a walk to raise awareness for veterans on Armed Forces Day on Saturday.
Each year during the holiday, American Legion’s Auxiliary Unit 24 and Archie Hay Post 24 host the event. On Saturday, the walk started outside the legion’s headquarters then wrapped around to M Street, Pilot Butte Avenue and North Front Street before finishing back at the post.
Vietnam War veterans carried flags representing Wyoming, the United States, American Legion, and the different branches of the military. Residents either walked behind the flags or stood outside businesses and homes with hands over their hearts and chanting thank yous for their sacrifices.
The American Legion puts on the event to honor veterans and educate residents about veterans living in the community, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 24 President Lisa Sheesley said.
“We try to do as much as we can for our vets,” she said, because they have done so much for the country. They sacrificed a lot for everyone’s freedoms. They sacrificed a lot more than people think.
IT STARTED AS A CHALLENGE
Past National American Legion Auxiliary President Nancy Brown-Park challenged states to host awareness walks in their communities that focuses on veterans, soldiers on active duty and their families, American Legion Auxiliary District 1 President Sunny Hobbs said.
The American Legion Auxiliary is a women’s patriotic service organization. Its mission is to support the American Legion and honor and enhance the lives of veterans, those on active duty and their families, according to its website.
“Her point was that while almost everyone ‘knows a veteran,’ many of us don’t realize that the cashier at the grocery store is a vet, that their child’s teacher is married to a woman who is deployed, or that their neighbor is a World War II vet with a story to tell,” Hobbs said.
With the wave of men and women who have served in the War on Terror coming home, she said they have almost become invisible.
In Rock Springs, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 24 under then President Susan Dansereau decided to host a walk and see if it could take off. Dansereau has since become the Wyoming American Legion Auxiliary president.
The first year there were 130 walkers. Attendance has fluctuated since then, but there has never been less than 40 participants, Hobbs said.
A TOUGH, GRATIFYING JOB
The American Legion Auxiliary District 1 president’s position is “hard, gratifying work that allows me to help this community,” Hobbs said.
“It is involved, time-consuming, and amazing,” she said. “I get a chance to work hand in hand with women I know, who I socialize with, to make an impact in the place that we live.”
In her role, Hobbs manages over eight units and said, “while I do have to deal with issues that arise occasionally, I mostly get to be a cheerleader and participant.”
District 1 is comprised of units in Sweetwater, Sublette, Teton and Uinta counties.
“Every unit in District 1 has at least one big activity each year — Veterans Day run in Green River, the Veterans Freedom Festival Car Show in Fort Bridger, birthday calendars in La Barge, etc., and I am invited and welcomed with open arms to enjoy these amazing events without the pressure of planning them,” Hobbs said. “I am blown away on a regular basis by the creativity of the women in this district, the dedication they show to their communities, and the tireless work they do honoring the veterans and active duty members in their homes.
“Each unit in my district has a distinct personality and yet we are all working toward the same goal, supporting each other, sharing ideas with each other, and proving what a group of women united in a common goal are capable of.”