I’ve never been part of an organization that got national recognition before, or presented at the White House.
Until now.
It's not a local organization, but Leavenworth residents have been deeply involved for 16 years in events that led to this award. The recipient of the award is across the wide Missouri. All 30 parts of the recipient organization. Let me explain.
About 17 or 18 years ago, an Army officer at the Command and General Staff College invited me to a lunchtime meeting with two librarians from the Weston Library. I went, and thus became part of what helped lead to this national award.
It is not just the Weston Library. It is the Weston Branch of the Mid-Continent Public Library, one of 30 branch members of the system. There are branches all around suburbs of Kansas City, and closer to us in Platte City, Parkville and Smithville.
What the two librarians wanted was help from collectors of military artifacts at the fort to set up a day-long display in the Weston Library near Veterans Day as part of a Veterans Salute. There were three or four of us, and we all agreed to participate.
The event was deemed a success. I wrote a couple of columns about it, and quite a few World War II and Korean War veterans from Leavenworth and Lansing were there. More came the next year to the totally free event with the only purpose of saluting, or honoring, all veterans.
In the past 17 years, only one year was missed, and no one can remember exactly why. But, for the past 10 or so years, it has been going strong. In the early years, the head librarian at the chosen branch was in charge of the whole event, which put quite a burden on that branch.
Then someone gave the mantle of leadership to a librarian at library headquarters in Independence, and put a half dozen or so head librarians on the planning committee. Also on the committee are representatives of several Korean War veterans organizations and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts.
Several years ago, the award-winning American Legion Band of Greater Kansas City asked to be involved, and its leader, Heather Pickett, is on the committee. A leader of the Patriot Guard motorcycle organization is also on it, and the Guard has been at every Salute for years.
I proudly accept the title of senior member of the committee, having missed only one year due to a slight communication problem. The problem was I got a call on a Wednesday asking if I’d like to participate, and I said sure. I asked when and was told “Saturday.”
When I asked what Saturday, the answer was “this Saturday.”  That one I missed due to being scheduled at the National World War I Museum.
After the last Salute in October, I was asked if I’d write a letter of recommendation for the award since I had historical perspective, and have worked hard each year to include more members of the Kansas City Military Collectors Club as providers of quality displays.
I was glad to write a letter, and a whole lot more glad to read a short blurb in April in a large metropolitan daily paper that the system had won an award.  Only five libraries and five museums are honored each year with the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor for libraries and museums. The award was presented in the White House by Michelle Obama.
Congratulations to readers out there who have supported the Veterans Salute through the years. Not many WWII veterans have been coming recently as age has taken its toll. All three Medal of Honor recipients in the area have attended, and all three have been at several past Salutes. Last year in Smithville, Chuck Hagemeister returned after a several year absence and was a big hit.
Congrats to the MCPL, and I look forward to seeing many of you on Oct. 18 at the Platte City Branch. Much more about that special day later.