HANNIBAL — The VFW Post 2446 Hall in downtown Hannibal is now draped in an American flag and POW/MIA flag, bringing a patriotic new look and increased awareness for the local veterans group and their historic building.
Post Quartermaster Pansy Kolb examined two framed documents hanging downstairs, one commemorating the beginning of VFW Post 2446 in 1932 and another one marking the start of the Auxiliary group in 1934. Kolb hopes the mural, which drapes Old Glory around the corner of the building along with a Prisoners of War/Missing in Action flag standing just to the right of the entrance will help attract more new members to the Post. She said VFW members met with artist Ray Harvey, and after a modification for the front door, “it turned out perfectly.”
Kolb said Harvey began tracing the design, which appears to be waving around the building from North Third Street, on Monday morning. He returned each day at 6 a.m., completing the design Friday at 5 p.m.
Kolb hopes the patriotic new mural will increase awareness for VFW Post 2446 and attract more members to the VFW. She said there have been some younger members who have joined recently, and more are welcome. A map shows areas of conflict overseas with the statement: “If you were here, you belong”.
So far, the new mural is attracting considerable attention. Kolb said a couple people stopped by from out of town to view the artwork last weekend, just after Harvey completed it. And he said his Facebook post showing the work has garnered more than 31,000 views since Friday, including residents of St. Louis, Colorado and South Carolina and Washington.
“People from all over the country have seen it. That can never be a bad thing for a VFW,” Harvey said, noting how he feels the patriotic pride boosts veterans’ pride and relevance in the community. “It’s easy in this loud, noisy day to become invisible, and you don’t ever want the veterans to become invisible. You want them to know they are always appreciated and respected and they are relevant — and what they’ve done in the past makes them more relevant.”
Kolb stressed how the work donated by Patriot Painting in 2016 transformed the formerly muted colors of the building, including roof work and repairs to exterior stucco surfaces. Kim and Curt Linderman, who is a veteran, donated the work, paint and some materials for the red, white and blue facelift. Harvey said the building was not as visible before due to its physical attributes, but the mural helped boost the situation on the historic block.
“I like to see a flag like that on every VFW, and I have received three calls just since Friday about just that,” Harvey said. Kolb agreed the flag provides has increased the visibility for Post 2446.
“And that was part of the reason. We needed to promote the VFW, because we need all the members we can get,” Kolb said, inviting any veterans who were in a conflict overseas to stop in to see if they qualify for membership. “Without the younger people, we’re not going to survive. We need to get them in, and get them used to coming in now. The old regime is unfortunately dying off, and as they get older, they just can’t do any more.”
Kolb is eager to compile a list of the community donors who made the mural possible “with a huge thank you”.
“If anybody still wants to donate, they’re welcome to contact the VFW, because we’ve still got to pay for it. It’s coming out of our building fund,” she said.
Kolb also invited family members like spouses, nephews, nieces, siblings and children to get involved with the VFW, where they can join the VFW Auxiliary through a family member.
“We have a Men’s Club, which is not really affiliated with National VFW, but they’re part of our Post,” she said. “And without the Auxiliary and the Men’s Club, this place would not exist. We get so much support from them. They’re here just to support the veterans.”
There are currently around 90 VFW members, with about half carrying lifetime memberships. Members buzz in to the private Post, and guests can come in if they are sponsored by a member.
More information about becoming a VFW member is available by visiting vfw.org or stopping by Post 2446 at 209 Bird Street. Kolb has the forms ready, and she can assist with the online application process as well.