It has been six years since the VFW held its annual meeting here.
The VFW has a special meaning for me since I first attended its annual convention in New York City in 1966, and again in 1967 when it was held in New Orleans. In between those two meetings there was the annual trip to Washington, D.C. The reason for my attendance was that I was the public information officer for the national commander, Reno attorney Les Fry.
I had been approached in my office at the Mapes Hotel by the credit manager Glenn Thorn. He asked me if I had seen overseas service. I told him I had and asked him why the question. He responded, “Well, there is going to be a Renoite named national commander of the VFW, and he will need a publicity man and speech writer.”
I replied that I wasn’t interested in representing a bunch of drunken guys in overseas caps, goosing girls on the boardwalk in Atlantic City. “No, no,” he replied, “those guys are the American Legion! You have to have served overseas to be a member of the VFW. They are a much more serious group.”
I told him I was still not interested, but then he mentioned the monthly retainer, and I quickly changed my mind.
Of the three trips I took with Les, the most interesting one was to Washington, D.C. On that occasion we were special guests at a session of the U.S. Senate and a Congressional hearing on veterans affairs chaired by Nevada’s Walter Baring.
Another highlight of that trip was a cocktail party hosted by 20 of the most influential members of the U.S. Senate. I spent the evening in the company of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. I remember him commenting that our two senators, Howard Cannon and Alan Bible, would not have been present at the gathering if the national commander had not been from Nevada. Schlesinger was full of many other interesting tidbits about Washington life.
A highlight of the New York trip, where Les was sworn in, was the presence of Nevada Gov. Grant Sawyer. No mean orator himself, Sawyer was upstaged by Les’ rousing speech against the way the Vietnam War was being waged.
Traditionally, the VFW convention attracts thousands of attendees. For more information, visit www.vfw.org/VFWNationalConvention or contact Vanessa Kane, CMP, CMM, at 816-968-1198, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scooters are available for rent at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center from Medtech Services, Inc. The company also provides pickup and delivery to the Peppermill, John Ascuaga’s Nugget, Atlantis or Silver Legacy hotels. To ensure availability, book in advance. For rates and more information, call 826-2022.
The application deadline for participating in the following competitions is July 1. After the deadline, a schedule of starting times will be sent to all applying units. Contests will take place in the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, 4590 S. Virginia St. There is no application fee, and contests are open to the public. For applications, rules and prize list, contact J. Robert Brady, chairman, at 319 Tadmar Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15237-1821; telephone 412-366-4115; fax 412-366-3117; or email email@example.com.
July 22 — 8 a.m. start
Senior Men’s VFW Color Guards
Senior Ladies VFW/Auxiliary Color Guards
Junior ROTC Color Guards – Exhibition Drill/VFW Rules – Male, Female or Mixed
Junior Drill Teams (non-JROTC) – High Schools, Organized Drill Teams and Majorette Corps
Junior ROTC Armed Drill Teams – Exhibition Drill/VFW Rules – Male, Female or Mixed
Junior Unarmed Drill Teams – Exhibition Drill/VFW Rules – Male, Female or Mixed
Junior ROTC Individual Rifle Contest – Male
Junior ROTC Individual Rifle Contest – Female
Junior Duet Rifle Competition – Male, Female or Mixed
July 23 — 8 a.m. start
Completion of contests from previous day.
July 24 — Presentation of awards by Commander-in-Chief Richard L. DeNoyer.
Harry Spencer is a Reno freelance writer.