Johnson: Genoa lucky to have Veterans Home

As Independence Day has passed, I’ve been reflecting on how lucky we are to live in the United States, land of the free and home of the brave. We are also fortunate to have the Veterans Club right here in Genoa.

Land of the free and home of the brave – these are words that the members of the Genoa Veterans Home live by every day. The American Legion has been around for more than 100 years and the building in our community was established in 1964. It is the home for all American veterans who have served to improve the quality of life for their families and the community. They are committed to promoting patriotism and supporting veterans and the community through local programs and scholarships.

Not only is the Vets Home a gathering place for the community, it is also a place for many local organizations to hold meetings and events. Genoa baseball, Boosters, Broncos, Lions Club, as well as the Knights of Columbus Club that holds its monthly breakfast there, are just a few of the organizations.

American Legion Post 337 meets at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday. The Sons of the American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary meet at 6 p.m. on the second Monday. The American Legion riders meet at 2 p.m. on the second Saturday. Anyone is welcome to meet them and go for a ride in the afternoon. Also, VFW Post 8387 meets there at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday.

Some may not know that the Vets Home is also a hometown bar right around the corner always open to the public. Happy Hour specials are offered from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Find the group on Facebook at facebook.com/genoavets. You can see all the events and information about renting the hall for your next event. Some upcoming events include a Walleye fish fry from 4:30 to 7 p.m. July 9. On July 10, the Sons of the American Legion will start cooking burgers on the grill every Saturday through August from noon to 2 p.m. A Cruise Night car show with a DJ, a food truck and outside bar happens every third Friday through September. The Knights of Columbus breakfast runs from 8 to 11:30 a.m. every third Sunday beginning July 18.

The 14th annual Veterans Weekend will take place July 31-Aug. 1. The event honors all veterans, senior citizens, first responders and healthcare workers. On Saturday, from 2 to 6 p.m., will be the Veterans Awareness Fair, silent auction fundraiser, ice cream social by Gospel Life Bible Church, a blood drive and a motorcycle parade ending at the Vets Home at 4:30 p.m. The Rolling Thunder POW/MIA remembrance ceremony is from 4 to 7 p.m. The Filthy Hogs food truck will be available and Couch Coins will play music from 7 to 11 p.m. A living history military encampment will be on display from Friday night until Sunday morning. On Sunday, a biscuit and gravy breakfast will be offered by the American Legion Auxiliary from 8 to 11 a.m. Also, the Sportsman’s Show will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Beginning Aug. 13, the Vets Home will host an Open Mic night at 7 p.m. The event will continue every second Friday.

On Aug. 15, the Vets Home will hold a Food Truck rodeo with food trucks, vendors, back-to-school giveaways and live music. This is sure to be a great family event. The Hay-Skinny Memorial bike run will be held Aug 21 starting at 11 a.m. with vendors, a silent auction and live music. The Dreadnoughts will play from 1 to 4 p.m. and Couch Coins from 5 to 9 p.m. The Filthy Hog food truck will be there from 4 to 7 p.m.

In September, there will be the SAL Fish fry from 4:40 to 7 p.m. on Sept. 3, a blood drive from 4 to 7 p.m. on Sept. 16 and Paint Night on Sept. 24.

I asked some of the veterans why the Vets Home was important to them.

Carolyn Tobinson, US Army veteran, said, “It’s important to have a place for veterans to connect and share experiences. It’s also important to have a place for the veterans to interact with the local community. Because I feel so welcome, I feel I want to be a bigger part of the community.”

Willy Crozier, also a veteran of the US Army, said, “It is a great place to go where everyone knows each other and socializes. It provides a venue for vets and non-vets to have events and parties and it honors those who have fallen that served our country.”

US Navy veteran Bill Lampert added, “To commiserate and socialize with my brothers and sisters and be there for them when I am needed.”

The Genoa Veterans Club is located at 311 S. Washington St. in Genoa. You can reach them at 815-784-5967.

• Krissy Johnson is executive director of the Genoa Area Chamber of Commerce.