Community Americanism Program celebrates major milestones

The annual community Americanism Program will be celebrated this year with the theme of “American Milestones” on Monday, February 24, at 7 p.m. at the Longfellow Gym in Baker. “This year’s program is a major milestone and huge community event,” organizers said.




By Lori Kesinger

The annual community Americanism Program will be celebrated this year with the theme of “American Milestones” on Monday, February 24, at 7 p.m. at the Longfellow Gym in Baker. “This year’s program is a major milestone and huge community event,” organizers said.

Russ Stoddard will be the emcee of the program and the guest speaker will be Christine Bestgen, president of North Dakota and South Dakota Gold Star Mothers. Bestgen will also be bringing the Fallen Heroes traveling banners display, which are picture banners memorializing the lives of military service members. The American Legion and Legion Auxiliary will present the flags with the assistance of the Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. The Baker High School band and choir and O’ Fallon Men’s Community Choir will be performing.

Milestones being celebrated this year include the 50th year of the Baker Americanism Program and the following:

85 -100th Anniversary of Gold Star Mothers – When the United States entered World War I in 1917, George Vaughn Seibold, 23, volunteered, requesting assignment in aviation. He was sent to Canada where he learned to fly British planes since the United States had neither an air force nor planes. Deployed to England, he was assigned to the British Royal Flying Corps, 148th Aero Squadron. With his squadron, he left for combat duty in France. He corresponded with his family regularly. His mother, Grace Darling Seibold, began to do community service by visiting returning servicemen in the hospitals.

The mail from George stopped. Since all aviators were under British control and authority, the United States could not help the Seibold family with any information about their son.

Grace continued to visit hospitalized veterans in the Washington area, clinging to the hope that her son might have been injured and returned to the United States without any identification. While working through her sorrow, she helped ease the pain of the many servicemen who returned so war-damaged that they were incapable of ever reaching normalcy. But on October 11, 1918, George’s wife in Chicago received a box marked “Effects of deceased Officer 1st Lt. George Vaughn Seibold”. The Seibolds also received a confirmation of George’s death on November 4th through a family member in Paris.

Lieut. Seibold was a member of the 148th U. S. Aero Squadron. He was first reported missing in action, though a number of circumstances led to the fear that he had been killed. Hope was sustained until now, however, by the failure to receive definite word. George’s body was never identified.

Grace, realizing that self-contained grief is self-destructive, devoted her time and efforts to not only working in the hospital but extending the hand of friendship to other mothers whose sons had lost their lives in military service.

She organized a group consisting solely of these special mothers, with the purpose of not only comforting each other, but giving loving care to hospitalized veterans confined in government hospitals far from home. The organization was named after the Gold Star that families hung in their windows in honor of the deceased veteran.

After years of planning, June 4, 1928, 25 mothers met in Washington, DC to establish the national organization, American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. On May 28, 1918, President Wilson approved a suggestion made by the Women’s Committee of the Council of National Defenses that, instead of wearing conventional mourning for relatives who have died in the service of their country, American women should wear a black band on the left arm with a gilt star on the band for each member of the family who has given his life for the nation.

“The Service Flag displayed from homes, places of business, churches, schools, etc., to indicate the number of members of the family or organizations who are serving in the Armed Forces or who have died from such service. Service flags have a deep Blue Star for each living member in the service and a Gold Star for each member who has died.” Thus, the Gold Star and the term Gold Star Mother, as applied to mothers whose sons or daughters died in World War I, were accepted; they have continued to be used in reference to all American military engagements since that time.

100th Anniversary of Charity Chapter Eastern Star – Charity Chapter was instituted in 1913 and chartered in 2014. Sandstone Lodge Masons also celebrated a 100 years in 2012.

125th Anniversary of the State of Montana – After Congress made Montana a territory in May 1864, the delegates to the First Legislative Assembly gathered in December of that year in a dirt-roofed cabin in Bannack City. During the next 60 days, the assembly passed 700 pages of laws and chose nearby Virginia City as the new capital of Montana Territory. It was not until the federal government passed the Enabling Act of 1889 and the voters of Montana Territory ratified a new constitution that Montana was admitted into the Union on November 8, 1889, by presidential proclamation of President Benjamin Harrison. Montana was the 41st state to be admitted into the Union.

200th anniversary of the “Star Spangled Banner” – On September 14, 1814, U.S. soldiers at Baltimore’s Fort McHenry raised a huge American flag to celebrate a crucial victory over British forces during the War of 1812. The sight of those “broad stripes and bright stars” inspired Francis Scott Key to write a song that eventually became the United States national anthem. Key’s words gave new significance to a national symbol and started a tradition through which generations of Americans have invested the flag with their own meanings and memories.

Refreshments will be served following the program and there is no charge to attend. Organizers said, “This community event is to be enjoyed by everyone and shows our patriotism in our corner of the world.”