National VFW Auxiliary president visits West Fargo
As National VFW Ladies Auxiliary President, Linda Meader is required to make an official visit to all 52 states and the District of Columbia during her year-long reign.
North Dakota was state number 33 last week as she made a special appearance at West Fargo VFW Post 7564, where members of the Ladies Auxiliary hosted a special Aisle of Honor to formally welcome her, followed by her attendance at both Auxiliary and Post meetings and a social hour that allowed Meader the opportunity to 'meet and greet' and get to know the club members better.
Meader is already familiar with the post, having been a guest at the state convention a few years back, and working alongside VFW Auxiliary member Liz Harkema, who currently serves as North Dakota VFW Ladies Auxiliary President.
Meader said she loves to meet the members that are the heart and soul of the Posts because "they are the hard-working people who give of their time and make things happen. West Fargo has an absolutely wonderful state president in Liz Harkema. You need somebody in that position to provide encouragement and make people want to do things, and Liz is that type of person. She's wonderful at what she does, gets along with everybody, gets the help she needs and makes it happen. She's marvelous."
Harkema returns the compliment commending Meader "for the excellent job she's doing in representing the national VFW. She's an absolutely wonderful president who is providing outstanding leadership and guidance."
On that note, Harkema said the West Fargo Ladies Auxiliary chapter is thrilled because it has achieved its 100 percent membership goal for the year, a campaign extremely important to Meader on a nationwide level.
Meader said she always makes it a point to thank all the members. "They do all the work with the different programs, including the Buddy Poppy drive, visiting veterans, working on cancer projects and so many other activities throughout the year. They are the heartbeat of the operation day-in, day-out, year-in, year-out. The dedication they have for veterans amazes me."
Her personal dedication to the VFW is equally as driven. The Auxiliary has always played an important role in her life. Her parents joined when she was an infant, and before she was old enough to become a member she worked on various drives and carried the name banner for the Auxiliary.
On March 16, Meader completed her 43rd year as a member, having joined in 1964. She's humble when this fact is brought up and quickly states, "I'm a member just like everyone else. When I'm at home I put on my apron and work alongside everyone at the suppers or whatever project we have going."
Hailing from Concord, New Hampshire, she was elected national president this past summer at the 93rd National Convention in Reno, Nev., representing Concord Auxiliary 1631. With a Bachelor of Arts degree in paralegal studies and a minor in business, after graduating magna cum laude from Notre Dame College, she is the Legal Administrator of a two-office law firm. She and her husband, David, have a daughter, Bridget, who is the fourth generation of her family to serve as Concord Auxiliary President and the mother of their first grandson, Alan.
Meader brings a wealth of experience to her new position including leading her Auxiliary as President at the age of 19. As District and Department President she was named Outstanding President of the Year. During the last five years, she had served in the offices leading to the National Presidency representing the National Organization at events throughout the country.
The theme throughout her travels has been "In the Spirit of America - We Are the Champions of America's Cherished Heroes," which she developed in honor of her late father, Edward C. Colby, who served in the U.S. Army in the South Pacific during World War II.
Meader said she looks forward to her stops around the country and every opportunity she gets "to thank veterans so much for what they've given for our freedom."
Two gifts she will forever cherish were presented to her during a veteran's home visit from two wheelchair-bound veterans, one who couldn't speak - a ceramic flag and a ceramic stone with a religious message on it. "These were magnificent gifts with such a powerful meaning and they mean the world to me."
Another occasion that stands out as a real privilege is tied to an extremely emotional moment. Here she mentions her Hawaiian visit and having the opportunity to attend a repatriation ceremony, where remains of servicemen killed in action in previous wars were returned to U.S. soil. "Two families that day were very sad, but at least they had closure and their loved ones were back home. That took my breath away, and was one of the most memorable experiences I've ever been a witness to."