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Six generations involved in American Legion Auxiliary...

Most often when we think of multiple generations, it’s because we see a photograph of an elderly person with a new baby and several generations between.

5/14/19 (Tue)

Most often when we think of multiple generations, it’s because we see a photograph of an elderly person with a new baby and several generations between.

That’s kind of how it is with a Donnybrook family, except this family has another multi-generational connection and that is the American Legion Auxiliary.

A string of six consecutive generations have been, or are involved with American Legion Auxiliary Unit 195 in Donnybrook.

It started out with Esther Michel, the wife of Eddie Michel, who fought in World War I. Esther was one of the first members of the unit when it was chartered in 1921.

Since that time, five generations following Esther are proud to call Unit 195 their own.

It starts with Pearl Kling of Kenmare. She is the daughter of Eddie and Esther Michel. She has been an auxiliary member for the past 40 years, and even now that she is beyond 90 years of age, continues to be active in the auxiliary.

If you don’t see Pearl Kling at a Veterans Day or Memorial Day related event in Kenmare or Donnybrook, there’s obviously something wrong.  You’ll often see Pearl wearing a patriotic outfit as she passes out poppies, observes patriotic school functions or even takes pictures of events.

That’s Pearl and she says she is doing just what her mother taught her about patriotism and love of country.

Pearl’s daughter Emily Seime, also of Kenmare, has been in the auxiliary about 10 years and you’ll always see Emily with Pearl together during Memorial Day or Veterans Day festivities.

To Emily, who represents a third generation of Michel family members, it’s just the right thing to do and it’s important to recognize the sacrifice of our nation’s fighting force and their families.

Emily sees a responsibility in being part of the events that honor veterans. She and Pearl have been distributing poppy poster rules to the local school, youth organizations and juniors so teachers have the time to work it into their schedules.

She and Pearl will also be passing out poppies leading up to Memorial Day.

“Through the American Legion Auxiliary Poppy program, more than $300,000 is paid annually to needy and disabled service members for making poppies,” she said. “We should be taking every opportunity to tell the poppy story.”

That story started in World War I in the Medieval county of Flanders which is partly in Belgium and partly in France.

It was the second year of the war and Canadian physician John McCrae wrote a poem after presiding over the funeral of a friend who died during the second battle of Ypres, in
Belgium.

The poppy reference comes from red poppies growing over the graves of fallen soldiers in Flanders and became a symbol of remembrance.

Two of Emily’s daughters, Trianna Sabo and Tressa Guth, are also involved with the auxiliary, as is Alice and Jose Guth, Tressa’s daughters.

Emily’s granddaughter Kayla Seime and her great-granddaughter Lillian Seime, are involved either because a parent or grandparent has been a member of the service at one time or another.

Six generations is truly rare and unique, but the Michel extended family are not only members, but are active in just about all aspects of the auxiliary.

Jennifer Donovan, a communications specialist with the national American Legion Auxiliary, confirmed the rarity of this unique North Dakota family.

“Yes, they are all members,” Donovan said. “All of our members under 18 are called juniors. Junior auxiliary membership is open to girls from infancy through age 17. The Junior Activities committee prepares girls to become active adult members of the organization and helps the girls develop leadership skills.”

It’s a great way to become something bigger than themselves, according to Donovan.

Jeannie Roman is the president of the North Dakota American Legion Auxiliary. She is aware of the Michel family saying it is common to have a string dating back so many generations, but is rare today.

“Our membership can start the day you are born,” Roman said. “So a lifetime membership was and still is a great way for veterans to keep their families involved in the American Legion family.”

Roman added she is looking forward to attending the American Legion 100th anniversary celebration that will be taking place in Donnybrook in June.

The American Legion Auxiliary isn’t just for the wives of military veterans as many people believe. That may have been how society accepted it in the 1920s and ‘30s, but as the auxiliary began to modernize, so did its membership to include daughters and granddaughters of the original members... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!