Back in the 1980s I had a friend in Princeton who wanted to join the American Legion but couldn't because he didn't meet the qualifications for dates served. He was in the Army in the late 1950s but not during the Korean War, the dates for that war being from June 25, 1950, to Jan. 31, 1955. He was always kind of bummed that he couldn't join and he died without being allowed to join.

I always thought the Legion should be open to anyone who has served in the military. There were discussions about that that through the years but nothing changed. Now it has.

On July 30 of this year President Trump signed a bill that made about 4.2 million veterans eligible for membership who previously weren't. The LEGION (Let Everyone Get involved in Opportunities for National Service ) Act declares that the United States has been in a state of war since Dec. 7, 1941, a date most of you know about. That means that anyone who has served on active duty since Pearl Harbor, and has an honorable discharge, is now eligible for Legion membership.

My friend would now be eligible for American Legion membership. A woman I met a couple years ago who worked in demolitions in the Army is now eligible. I hope to pass that on to her on Veterans Day next month with the hope that she will join.  After all, she worked in demolitions. There are many veterans who served between May 1975 (the end of Vietnam hostilities) and August 1982 (Lebanon and Grenada) who weren't eligible before but are now, as well as those who served between July 1985 (Lebanon/Grenada) and December 1989 (Panama).

The Legion and the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) are organizations that by their very nature have way fewer numbers than in the '50s through the '90s. When I was lucky enough to be commander of the Princeton American Legion post in the mid-90s for two years we had close to 580 members. The numbers now are about half that as many World War II veterans, Korean veterans and Vietnam veterans have died the last couple decades. The Princeton post, for example, no longer has any World War II veterans on its roster.

The change will also affect the American Legion Auxiliary and Sons of The American Legion (SAL). Auxiliary membership is open to grandmothers, mothers, sisters, male spouses (new), and direct and adopted female descendants of eligible veterans. SAL eligibility is also changed: Any son or grandson of a living American Legion member is eligible, and sons and grandsons of deceased veterans are also eligible.

If you know someone who is now eligible, mention it to them. Some won't be interested but some will.

It's about time, as far as I am concerned. It should have happened long ago. Maybe the decision was made because the Legion is celebrating its 100th year of being an organization. Both the Legion and VFW have been very active in working for veterans' benefits, and both, along with their auxiliaries, have been very active in Princeton and have served the community in many ways. The numbers are down but the spirit is still there. 

All things football - Princeton, Gophers, Vikings

The Princeton football team (5-4) has a three-game winning streak after a 21-6 section  quarterfinal win over Big Lake here Tuesday night. Its reward is to play state-ranked Becker (No. 7 in Class 4A) on Saturday, although coach Ryan Fay says his team will be ready to give a good battle. "We're as ready as we ever will be," he said. It's been a good couple weeks for the team with wins over Foley, Little Falls and Big Lake. Senior Cole Carlson, who  missed the second half of the Big Lake game because of an injury, has had three good games in a row, scoring 7 touchdowns and gaining 441 yards in 2 1/2 games and averaging 6.7 yards a carry. Jack Slipy, the team's quarterback for the majority of the year, was injured recently but is starting on defense, while junior Ben Arseneau has quarterbacked the last three games, completed 53 percent of his 40 passes for 424 yards (20.2 yards per completion) and 3 touchdowns. He was 9-for-15 for 158 yards in the blustery wind during the Big Lake game. Colton Malecha has 8 catches for 145 yards in the 3 games, Haydn Stay 4 for 84 and Lukas Backlund 5 for 109. Adam Tarvestad caught 1 for 59 yards and a touchdown in the Foley game. Leading solo tacklers in the three games have been Devin Dahlheimer and Kaden Olson with 6 apiece against Foley, Malecha (4) and Dahlheimer (3) against Little Falls, and Stay (5) and Tristan Scheffel (4) against Big Lake. Princeton had two interceptions in the Big Lake game, the Hornet quarterback throwing 38 passes.

A bit of caution for fans of the Gophers (7-0) and the Vikings (5-2) who have a three-game winning streak. I took a look at  the records of the opponents for both teams, to date, and found that the combined record of those teams is under .500. The combined record of the Gophers' seven opponents is 21-25. The record of the three non-conference opponents is 11-7, buoyed by the 5-1 record of South Dakota State. Georgia Southern and Fresno State are both 3-3. South Dakota State plays No. 1-ranked North Dakota State Saturday and that game will be featured by ESPN. Minnesota's four Big Ten opponents to date are 10-18 overall, with Nebraska the best at 4-3 and Rutgers the worst at 1-6. Maryland is 3-4 after a fast start and when the Terrapins play here Saturday that might be a scary game for Minnesota. Maryland has all kinds of offensive talent but has struggled after a fast start that saw them ranked nationally. 

The combined record of the Vikings' eight opponents is 21-32-1. Washington is the worst at 1-7 after losing to the Vikings Thursday night, while Green Bay is the best at 6-1. Oakland and Chicago are both 3-3 and the others are under .500. The two losses came against teams that are 9-4, while the wins have come over teams that are 12-28-1. Sometimes records are misleading. And neither the Gophers nor the Vikings have to apologize for how they have played, or who they have played. There are occasions when teams play up or down to the competition. The Gophers are heavy favorites to beat Maryland and then their schedule toughens. The Vikings were heavy favorites to beat Washington (1-7), they did, and now their schedule gets harder. It's been a good season for those of us who are fans of both teams. I've thought all year long that the Viking defense is overrated and they gave up more than 400 yards in each of two games before the Washington game and still won. Kirk Cousins, who took way too much abuse when the team was 2-2, is the leading passer in the NFL at this point, and Dalvin Cook leads the NFL in rushing. Cousins threw a terrible pass in the Green Bay game on a play that I thought was a terrible call. The Chicago defense was very good in the team's other loss. Last Sunday Cousins did something that has NEVER been done in the NFL— he had his third straight game with more than 300 yards of passing and a quarterback rating of 130 or better. Think of that — there have been all those great quarterbacks and none of them have done that. And Thursday night against the Redskins he completed 23 of 26 passes, one of the incompletions a drop by Cook who was wide open. A few weeks ago there was a WCCO Radio guy suggesting the Vikings would be better off with Teddy Bridgewater. C'mon.

 

PRINCETON SPORTS MEMORIES

Oct. 30, 1959 - Ogilvie beat Princeton 25-8, the Tigers scoring on a pass from Bob Nick to Larry Gerdin.

Oct. 29, 1964 - Princeton beat Foley 34-0 as Mike Rajala ran 80 yards for a score. Myron Angstman ran for two touchdowns, passed to Tim Enger for another, and Joel Erickson ran for one.

Oct. 29, 1969 - Princeton beat Braham 8-6, all the scoring coming in the final quarter as Mark Blaske (17 carries, 73 yards) scored and Jerry Bergeron ran for the winning two-point conversion . . . The cross-country team placed fourth in the Region Four meet as Kurt Homstad was 14th, Greg Skogen 17th and Kevin Gerth 18th.

Oct. 31, 1974 - Princeton lost 44-28 to Milaca as quarterback Keith Julson threw for 264 yards and Jim Cartwright scored all four touchdowns. Mike Kapsner caught eight passes for 126 yards . . . Janet Rogde had 13 points as Princeton beat Elk River 49-29 in basketball for the team's sixth straight win.

Nov. 2, 1979 - Gaining 422 yards, Princeton beat Foley 39-6 for the team's ninth straight win but then lost 19-12 to Rochester Lourdes in a playoff game at Princeton that was played in a steady rain.. Dave Blaske ran for 167 yards in the loss and Steve Kapsner threw three touchdown passes in the win over Foley.

Nov. 1, 1984 - Princeton lost 10-0 to Mora in a Section 5A playoff football game and ended the season at 6-4 . . . Kelly Keen broke the school 100-yard freestyle record as Princeton lost to Elk River in swimming. 

Nov. 2, 1989 - Behind by one set and trailing 9-0 in the second one, the PHS volleyball team rallied for a win over North Branch in subsection play as Julie Priess had 11 kills and Kris Bottema 11 ace serves.

Nov. 3, 1994 - Princeton upset a 9-0 Sauk Rapids team to advance to the title game in Section 5A football. Toby Bryant scored on a pass from Mark Stay and, with 2:05 remaining, Gordy Schwartz scored and Greg Sliter kicked the extra point for a 14-13 win. 

Oct. 29, 1999 - Despite 13 penalties for 109 yards and five turnovers, Princeton beat Foley 35-21 as Paul Gibbs scored twice and ran for 168 yards. Then the team beat Duluth Central 35-20 in the first round of the playoffs as Gibbs ran for 161 yards and two scores. David Holmes ran 58 yards for a score after Gibbs was injured. 

Oct. 28, 2004 - Princeton edged Foley 14-12 in the final game of the regular season and the Tigers (9-0) then beat Cloquet 35-14 in the first round of playoffs as Brad Aasen scored twice and Branden Lueck had 4 carries for 93 yards and a score . . .  The volleyball team rallied from a 2-1 deficit in sets to beat Chisago Lakes in subsection play as Sara Scheef had 20 kills and Andrea Hubbel 15.

Oct. 29, 2009 -  Princeton lost 35-14 to Becker in the final game of the regular season and then lost 35-0 to Delano in the first round of the playoffs, finishing 1-8 for the season . . . Dylan Hass placed eighth at the Princeton cross-country invitational and the team placed fifth.

Oct. 30, 2014 -  The girls tennis team lost to Prior Lake at the state tournament, beat ranked St. Cloud Tech 4-3 with a key win at No. 2 singles by Bri Dorr against the only team the Tigers lost to in the regular season, and then lost to Rochester Mayo. Bri and Kelsey Dorr lost a long match in doubles to a St. Cloud Tech team in individual play, then beat a Coon Rapids team, and lost to a Mahtomedi team that won the consolation title . . . The girls soccer team (18-2) lost to Hill-Murray 5-0 in the first round of the state tournament.  

Oct. 25, 2018 - Ryan Young placed 19th in the conference cross-country meet meet and made all-conference, and Lexi Duscher (8th), Lily Opay (17th) and Julia Daubner (18th) also made all-conference . . . The football team lost 41-30 to Big Lake to end the regular season as James Flicek ran for 184 yards and threw for 141yards and two touchdowns.

Dorr is the former editor of the Princeton Eagle (2 years) and Princeton Union-Eagle (31 years), and has covered sports in the Princeton area for 52 years.

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