The Thurston, Schram, Reynolds VFW Post 8137 is the new home of a local Veterans group, the 40 and 8 that currently has a National membership of 28,648. The photo of the Box Car Locomotive on the left represents the Cayuga County La Societe Chapter 1064, which was taken earlier this year in Montezuma at the memorial Service for the Montezuma Post 8137’s founder, Warren Garner.
The idea of the Forty and Eight was brought about in 1920, formed with a new and different level of veteran membership and camaraderie for leaders of the American Legion. It was formed based on the common wartime experiences of American soldiers, sailors and marines, incorporating fun making with patriotic bonding.
The box car of the French Railways, so familiar to American ground troops of the First World War was chosen as the symbolic heart of the new organization. The “40/8” cargo capacity sign emblem on each French box car carried American soldiers to the front during WWI.
In 1947, American newspaper columnist Drew Pearson was so moved by the conditions in war torn Europe that he called on Americans for donations of food, closing, medical and other supplies to aid the plights of France and Italy. He proposed a plan for a train to cross American collecting car loads of donated supplies as it went. The “Friendship Train” was formed with eight empty boxcars traveling from Los Angeles to New York in eleven days. It loaded some 700 Box Cars with donated goods worth $40 million. As the aid began to pour in France, a French veteran of WWI and railroad worker was so grateful for the American’s generosity that he formed the 49 “Merci Train” of WWI era boxcars, each filled with mementos from the French people that was sent to America. The “Gratitude Train”, as it became to be called in America, crossed the Nation one boxcar with it’s contents donated to each of the 48 states, DC and Hawaii.
Today the “Box Cars” stand in their respective States as a testament to the two incredible displays of goodwill and have evolved through the efforts of the “La Societe de 40 and 8” and the National Boxcar Association to annually raise funding in support of the many charitable programs of the 40/8 in support our nation’s communities.
The organization’s website lists a long history of it’s charitable accomplishments since its establishment. Its mission is to uphold and defend the United States Constitution, to promote the well being of veterans and their widows and orphans, and to actively participate in selected charitable endeavors, which include programs that promote child welfare and nurse’s training. In 1960 it became an independent veteran’s organization.
A Spaghetti Supper sponsored by the 40 and 8 chapter will be held at the Montezuma VFW on Erie Street on Saturday, September 13, 2014 from 4: 30 to 7 PM. Come on out and welcome them to Montezuma!