Sikeston group brings Christmas cheer to veterans

Monday, December 8, 2003

To commemorate the 62nd anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and celebrate the Christmas season, members of Sikeston American Legion Post 114 presented gifts on Sunday to 150 veterans living at the Missouri Veterans Home.

"I spent nine-and-a-half weeks in the veterans hospital around Christmas one year when I had heart surgery," said Bill Linum, a Vietnam veteran who played Santa. "So I know what it's like. It just makes you feel good inside to do something for these veterans."

Members of the American Legion and the Sons of the American Legion went door to door at the Veterans Home. The gifts were the letters "USA" carved out of wood on a wooden base with two American flags attached.

They also gave each veteran a bag of fruit and ran a bingo game at the home.

The flags were provided by the Ladies Auxiliary in an effort organized by Vicki Wilson, while the fruit was provided by the American Legion and Sons of the American Legion.

"They've done so much for us," said Travis Cummins, commanding officer of the Sons of the American Legion Post 114. "We're just proud to be able to do a little something for them."

Even though it was Pearl Harbor Day, the gifts were presented to all veterans at the home, not just those from World War II.

"But probably nine-tenths of the people are World War II vets," Cummins said.

Many veterans expressed their thanks, happy to see Santa and receive gifts.

"They just like for somebody to come and see them," Cummins said. "A lot of them said this was the first Santa they've seen since they've been in here."

Cummins said the legion will be back again next year.

msanders@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 226

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