HISTORY OF THE POST
October of 1946, Fairfax was just a bucolic little southern county. There were only four high schools. The Fairfax County Police Department had only six officers before the war started and by 1946 that number had only grown to 25. Most of the young men who had gone off to war in the preceding five years knew each other, as did many of their families. They generally left for the war at Charter Members (1948)different times and typically served in different units, spread literally all over the globe.
They saved the world and then they returned to an America that had radically transformed in their years of absence, and specifically to a county on the verge of a period of unprecedented growth. Seeing a need, World War I Navy veteran Karl O. Spiess gathered ten to twelve area veterans in his home in early 1946 to begin organizing a new VFW Post. By October, they had gathered 106 (Charter) members and they obtained their official charter from the VFW National Headquarters.
Karl became our first Commander. At the urging of a young Pacific theater veteran, Fred Kielsguard, the newly returned members of what is now called AMERICA’s GREATEST GENERATION, named their new VFW Post 8469, “The Blue and Gray Post,” after the area’s famed 29th Infantry Division which took such heavy casualties on D-Day in Normandy and later during the fight to the Rhine.
On the wall of the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans today is an inscription quoting Lieutenant Horace Henderson of the 6th Engineer Special Brigade, describing the Omaha Beach on June 7th, 1944, “I noticed that nothing moved on the beach except one bulldozer. The beach was covered with debris, sunken craft, and wrecked vehicles. Then we saw that the beach was literally covered with the bodies of American soldiers wearing the Blue and Gray patches of the 29th Infantry Division.”
Young veterans in the new Post were amazed that Service rank held little sway in their organization. Recently discharged (former) Army Corporal Vince Sutphin remembers running a Post meeting as the Junior Vice Commander at the old Silver Moon restaurant in which active duty Rear Admiral and World War II hero Dan Gallery attended and was just one of the guys (albeit, a distinguished one). In the time since our Post was chartered in October of 1946, Fairfax County has grown to a population of over a million and is generally acknowledged as being among one of the most prosperous communities in the nation. And since 1946, successive new generations of Americans have returned home to Fairfax County after having fought overseas in our nation’s wars.
A VFW Post is really nothing more than a combination of the Post Home and the member-veterans who meet therein to conduct the works of the organization. Our Post was fairly itinerant in its Post Commander, Jacobo Flores, with Charter Member, Bill Sheads, at Post Christmas Party (2013early days, meeting in the old Fairfax Town Hall, the old elementary school which is now the Fairfax Museum, above an old garage on Fairfax Circle, the old Silver Moon restaurant on Shirley Gate and Lee Highway, and in people’s homes, but the place where the personality of our current day Post was shaped was around an old pot-belly stove, now on permanent loan/display in the back of our current meeting room, from Hubert Dulaney’s old “Fairfax Hardware Store.”
For years, starting in the mid to late 1950’s and finally ending when Hubert retired and sold the hardware store in 1996, generations of veterans met around the old pot-belly stove, exchanged stories, made plans, and built new lives in a fast growing community. Hubert recruited them into our Post. In 1987 the Post took possession of our current Home, originally built in 1899 (the same year as the VFW began). The Post Home itself isn’t much. There is no bar. No smoking is allowed inside. But if you come to a meeting and eat a meal with us, you’ll immediately see that the “Post” is NOT the building. Rather, it is the pillars – the veterans themselves, who support each other, their community, their nation, the Post building, and are themselves human monuments to the history they have lived and shaped, that are the living breathing heart of our Post.
The VFW is the largest organization of combat veterans in the country. Each of our members has gone overseas and served. They survived their ordeals, came home, and they remember the fallen, as well as the widows and orphans of their comrades, while they work for the good of the community. The work of the organization is centered entirely on service to others but qualification is based entirely on the common experience of deploying overseas in time of combat.