Due to the latest surge in COVID – 19 outbreaks, and the latest guidelines from the governor and the Maine CDC, the city of South Portland will not host a Veterans Day parade or public ceremony.

Stewart P. Morrill American Legion Post 35 will conduct a private wreath-laying ceremony at the South Portland War Memorial 11 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 11.

Bob Traill, a U.S. marine veteran, at the Portland Rotary Club’s display of “Flags for Community Heroes” in 2019. Traill was honored a Paul Harris Fellowship Award by the Portland Rotary Club at the Maine Mall on Sept. 11. Courtesy photo of the Portland Rotary Club

According to a release from Legion Post 35, “Our great fathers fought in the Great War that caused the start of the American Legion on Nov. 11, 1919. We remember them and every veteran who died since and we, as American Legion members, will not let a virus stop us from doing our duty. We will stand tall, masked and socially distanced, to honor our fallen comrades.”

American Legion oratorical contest season starting

National American Legion has started the American Legion Oratorical Scholarship Program as of a notice from department headquarters in Winslow, Maine. Department headquarters mailed out information to all state high schools on Sept. 22.

The American Legion Oratorical Scholarship Program is a series of oratorical competitions held at local, district and state levels. Scholarships range from $50 to $25,000 and are available for any high school student enrolled in (public, parochial, military, private or state accredited home school) in which a high school level curriculum is taught.

The contest consists of two parts:

First, an eight- to 10-minute prepared oration on any aspect of the American Constitution. Second, a three- to five-minute discourse on one of four selected topics chosen at random by draw from a hat on subjects predetermined by National American Legion headquarters.

Members of the local American Legion Posts will be in contact with local school to inquire about the school participation in this very educational and career-building program. Students interested in the opportunity should contact their high school guidance counselor or civic teacher for more information. Information is available at local American Legion Posts. A list of Maine Legion Posts can be found via Google or Facebook.

Veterans donate uniforms to help communities

Veterans are known for protecting the nation’s freedom and now, through the donation of service uniforms, will continue to protect the community, this time against a global pandemic.

Through Saturday, Nov. 7, Bill Dodge GMC and the Portland Radio Group will present Salute the Protectors, Veterans Count’s 2020 Veterans Day Fundraiser. Over the next two weeks and culminating with live coverage from three of Bill Dodge’s locations (Brunswick, Saco and Westbrook) the event will highlight the contributions local veterans have made to communities while raising money for veterans in Maine. All money raised supports Veterans Count and the military community.

From housing to transportation to food, medical bills, childcare and tuition, Veterans Count provides Maine veterans with a hand up, not a hand out. Citizens can help by making a gift during the Salute the Protectors event. Gifts of any size are welcome and donations of $50 or more will receive a high-quality facemask, hand-sewn by local seamstresses and made from military uniforms. Each mask will come with a card detailing where the uniform was worn.

“At Easter Seals and Veterans Count, we are truly humbled to have the opportunity to offer a hand up to those who have served our country,” said Joe Emmons, chief development officer for Easter Seals New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont, in an email. “Repurposing masks worn by the brave men and women who have served our country, offers a lasting reminder of the protection our military provides us, each and every day.”

Listen daily on Portland Radio Group at News Radio WGAN 560 AM and FM 98.5, Coast 93.1, and WPOR 101.9 to hear stories of support. To make a donation to Veterans Count Maine, visit vetscount.org/maine, call 844-650-8387 or text VET to 77000. Checks can be mailed to 14 Atlantic Place; South Portland, ME 04106.

Easter Seals Maine provides military and veterans services with financial support from Veterans Count. The mission of Veterans Count is to provide critical and timely financial assistance and services when no other resource is available to service members, veterans and their families, to ensure their dignity, health and overall well-being.