Passionate about Patriotism
Patriotism is subject dear to Lois Schaefer’s heart
BOTTINEAU – When Lois Schaefer of Bottineau became State Americanism Chairman of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary Department of North Dakota, she had never held a state chairmanship before and didn’t know what was expected of her.
Schaefer said she “gave it all,” hoping she would measure up.
At the end of Schaefer’s term, Veterans of Foreign Wars state president Loretta Wall of West Fargo, made a special award for Schaefer called “The Above and Beyond Award” for all the work she had done.
Schaefer had won the first place VFW Auxiliary National Americanism Award at the national convention held in Kansas City, Mo., July 21-28. Schaefer also was featured in the national VFW Auxiliary magazine’s September issue.
Schaefer said she “burned a lot of midnight oil working on articles and projects almost every night for the past year, often staying up until 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning, sometimes all night” to meet the schedule she had set for herself. Most projects she did alone since the local auxiliary has few members.
“Although I got very little sleep, I enjoyed everything I did, every article I wrote, and I loved seeing the interest and enthusiasm of the school children; they stole my heart,” she said. When a second-grade class sang a song to her to thank veterans, Schaefer said it was so touching it brought her to tears.
Last September when Schaefer, her husband and two sons drove to Green Bay, Wis., to attend a Green Bay Packers vs Cincinnati Bengals game, she donned her “Rosie” attire for the game until the record temperature forced her to change into cooler clothing. (Her Grandfather Solper was from Wisconsin so her family grew up Packers fans and her husband is from Cincinnati.)
“I visited with and distributed the “Rosie the Riveter’ story card I wrote up to many of the merchants and fans at the game, as well as to people in Minnesota and Wisconsin along the way. Many people at the game thanked me for promoting patriotism at a time when NFL players were taking a knee during our national anthem. I also waved my ND Rosie ‘We Can Do It Packers!’ poster that I made for the game,” she said.
On a trip to Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband, older son and his family to visit relatives and see sites along the way, she passed out “Rosie the Riveter” cards and The Tootsie Roll Story cards “whenever and wherever we stopped along the way in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio. And yes, I always had candy attached to the story cards,” she said.
She spent more than $700 of her own money this past year on candy, supplies and awards promoting patriotism.
“Whenever and wherever I went, I wore my Rosie attire and soon earned the nickname Rosie in my community and at our state convention,” Schaefer said.
But, she said, her biggest achievement was this past year, coming from the endeavors of her cousin Laurel Chastain, a senior flight attendant with Alaska Airlines.
“Her father was a Pearl Harbor survivor,” Schaefer said. “Every article or story card I wrote up, I emailed to her, other relatives and friends to promote patriotism. Unknown to me and at her own expense, Laurel printed up copies of the Tootsie Roll Story I wrote up and begin handing them out to passengers on her flights (along with a Tootsie Roll, of course) during Alaska Airlines’ celebration of Military Month.”
Soon, Schaefer said, other flight attendants were asking her cousin for copies so they too could distribute the story on their flights, and the project snowballed. She said next flight attendants begin asking Chastain for new stories to distribute.
“A veteran from here in North Dakota told me that he had received one of the story cards on an Alaska Airlines flight he had taken and was surprised to find out that it had originated from me in North Dakota. My stories were being promoted across the United States thanks to my cousin Laurel and other Alaska Airlines flight attendants. How many states that encompassed, I don’t know, but Alaska Airlines flies to 24 states,” Schaefer said.
“My parents had great pride and respect for our country, the American flag and our veterans who fought for and of whom so many died for our freedom. They taught and promoted patriotism in our home. Their grandparents, parents, uncles and my dad’s brother all served our country in time of war,” Schaefer said.
She said her father served in the Marine Corps in the Pacific Theatre during World War II for three years. A cousin, her nephew, and her younger son also have served in the U.S. military.
“All reasons why I have such great respect and admiration for our veterans and our armed forces personnel. I too wanted to enlist in the Marine Corps after I graduated from high school but my mother wouldn’t allow it for fear of my safety, and I respected her decision,” Schaefer said.
“My parents and my son have been my inspiration to do everything I can for our veterans, to teach our youth patriotism, and to make people aware of the price that has been paid by so many for all the freedoms we have, and how precious those freedoms really are. Patriotism is a subject so dear to my heart,” Schaefer added.
(Prairie Profile is a weekly feature profiling interesting people in our region. We welcome suggestions from our readers. Call Editor Mike Sasser at 857-1959 or Regional Editor Eloise Ogden at 857-1944. Either can be reached at 1-800-735-3229. You also can send e-mail suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.)