Ramlow, who is the commander of the post, said in an
interview Wednesday that the VFW is alive, and considering the
struggles they've had in the last few years, doing pretty well.
Ramlow also said she thinks she knows how the rumor started, and it
boils down to people not understanding that the VFW post is not the
building they use, but actually the people the organization is made
Ramlow said a decision was made by the post about a year ago to
stop selling liquor. When they gave up their liquor license, they
found out that they would be required to take down their sign in
front of their building on Fifth Street, and they did.
Taking it a step further, the post decided to rename the building
and give it an identity of its own. Therefore they named it the
Freedom Hall Event Center.
Ramlow said they wanted to separate the building from the VFW
organization to a certain degree so that it would be more marketable
as a meeting place for anyone and everyone who chooses to use it.
In addition to all this, when they took down the sign, the owner
of the new basement restaurant and bar, Bill Osterman, put his sign
up advertising the Wishbone Restaurant.
So, Ramlow said the confusion is understandable, but she still
wants the public to know the VFW is a working organization.
Currently there are approximately 190 members in the post. Of
that number Ramlow said about 10 members are very active, and she
really wishes more would get involved with all that the group is
doing because they are doing a lot.
Ramlow said that a portion of the mission of the VFW is to do
community service. In that arena the VFW is getting more involved in
In February they hosted their first appreciation dinner for first
responders. Ramlow said the event was well attended by police, fire
and EMA members and their families. She said, as a community
service, this was a moment to express appreciation to those who risk
their lives for the safety and welfare of the community, much like
soldiers overseas risk their lives for the freedom of the nation.
Later this spring the VFW agreed to work with emergency services
and make the building a safe shelter for children from Jefferson
In May a special exercise was conducted where the children of the
school were evacuated and brought to the Freedom Hall. While they
were there, the students heard from several first responders about
the importance of having a safe place away from the school if a
disaster were to occur. They learned that parents would know their
students were at the Freedom Hall and could come there to find them
to take them home.
This year, for the first time, the post is going to participate
in trick-or-treat night in Lincoln. Ramlow said Freedom Hall would
be open and trick-or-treaters could stop by and get not just candy,
but some other special items.
In addition to the things the post is doing at Freedom Hall,
Ramlow said they contribute to the Logan County Food Pantry; will be
hosting a blood drive with Logan County Love; have volunteers who
help out at the Oasis Senior Center, and they offer financial
support to the Lincoln D.A.R.E. program.
They are also participating in and promoting the Voice of
Democracy essay contest and the Patriot's Pen contest. These
contests are for high school and junior high students and come with
some really hefty prize money if the local winner makes it through
the ranks to the finals.
Ramlow said she wishes that more local students would participate
in this contest. The grand prize is $30,000 for high school
students, and for the junior high, it is $5,000.
On a local level Ramlow said if kids enter, the post will select
one winner to move on to the next level -- district. Ramlow said
there are several districts in the state of Illinois. The Cronin
Brothers VFW belongs to District 10, which consists of several posts
in nearby counties.
The student who wins on the district level will then move on to a
regional competition and finally a national competition. At each
level only one winner is chosen to advance. Ramlow said the
competition is kind of steep, but for $30,000, isn't it worth taking
[to top of second column]
Another part of the VFW mission is to serve soldiers and
veterans. Ramlow said the post is involved in programs that offer
free phone calls home for soldiers overseas. The post is also
involved in offering support and assistance to transitioning
soldiers. And they help in the unmet needs program that offers
assistance to families while their soldier is deployed. This
assistance, Ramlow said, is a financial aid program that can help
with mortgage payments, rent, insurance, utilities, food and
Most will remember that a few short years ago the VFW was in
financial trouble, on the verge of losing their building to
foreclosure. Ramlow said she can't answer to what happened there, as
she wasn't involved, but she can talk about what has happened since.
The VFW post has been striving to become more financially
responsible. Ramlow said they have worked to improve their business
practices and become more financially sound. She also said the
organization has made a lot of progress in that area. The mortgage
on the Freedom Hall is up-to-date and many of the post's other debts
have been paid off.
Ramlow said this is due in no small part to Osterman, who took
over the basement and is running his restaurant there. Ramlow said
the Wishbone is a good fit for the VFW, and she believes the
business is doing well. Osterman rents the space from the VFW, and
that provides the organization with a set amount of monthly income.
In addition, Ramlow said the Freedom Hall is becoming a good
source of revenue for the post. The building is rented out to
whoever wishes to use it for weddings, anniversary parties, class
reunions and more.
The hall is also being rented to the Pale Riders County Dance
Club, the Lincoln Dance Club, and soon there will be a Zumba class
starting up at the hall.
The Lincoln Farmer's Market uses the hall one weekend in December
for a holiday craft sale.
Ramlow said the VFW Auxiliary is also a huge asset to the
organization. The women of the auxiliary are continually working to
help the post thrive. The auxiliary hosts fundraiser dinners twice a
month in the hall.
And, the hall does still serve as the home of the Cronin Brothers
VFW as well as its auxiliary, and it is the home of the Robert Graue
Marine Corps League.
Ramlow said there is still more to do to make the post what she
feels would be financially sound, but they are gaining on the
situation all the time. As they make progress, she added, the post
will work to do more in the area of community service as well as
serving our soldiers.
Ramlow said that over time, the posts wants to spruce up their
building. She noted some of the items on the "to do" list: new round
tables for the hall and comfortable chairs, a new ceiling, and they
need to replace the air conditioning.
And finally, they are always looking for new members. Anyone who
is interested in joining the VFW can contact Ramlow through the
The officers of the Cronin Brothers VFW Post 1756 are Michelle
Ramlow, post commander; Kenny Delaney, quartermaster; Matt Viner,
senior vice commander; Jennifer Buffington, junior vice commander;
Robbie Bell, chaplain; and Roger Bakken, JAG officer. Officers are
elected annually and serve in their offices on a volunteer basis.
[By NILA SMITH]