Dedicated to remembering the fallen

SANDUSKY While Democrats and Republicans have argued about the Iraq war over the last four years, Am
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

 

SANDUSKY

While Democrats and Republicans have argued about the Iraq war over the last four years, American Legion member Janet Lippus has been stitching.

She stitched one red, white, and blue needlepoint square with a star in the middle for every Ohio soldier killed in Iraq since the war began.

This time last year, there were 124 stars. Now there are 169, although that number of deaths cannot be confirmed.

Lippus said each square took her 21/2 hours to stitch, which means she's stitched for 422.5 hours since the war began.

At Sunday's American Legion open house, Lippus' needlepoint memorial to Ohio's fallen soldiers stood before about 200 people.

The Legion elected new officers June 6 and the open house was their way of reaching out to the community, reintroducing the Legion and all that it stands for.

Newly-elected American Legion Commander Terry Kaufman said Lippus epitomizes what the Legion is all about.

While political pundits debate the war on cable news networks, Lippus just wants the people who fight it to be remembered.

"I don't want these young men coming back from Iraq like the people did in Vietnam," she said.

Kaufman, who's a Vietnam veteran, said Iraq war veterans come home to a more receptive public than did Vietnam veterans decades ago.

"I'm glad to see it's changed," he said. "When we came home there were some vets that didn't want them in (veterans clubs). It was a very unpopular war."

Janet Lippus is the wife of Neil Lippus, a Korean war veteran. She and Kaufman said since World War II, American veterans haven't been given the respect they deserve.

That, according to Lippus, has changed in the Iraq war, but she said the tides might be turning.

"It's too early to tell," Lippus said. The longer (the war) drags on it possibly could, but I don't want to say yes or no."

Lippus took up the mission of memorializing fallen soldiers after watching a convoy of troops deploy to Kosovo in the 1990s.

She watched a father dressed in fatigues hug his two children, a young boy and girl, both less than 10 years of age.

When the soldier got on the bus to leave, his son saluted him.

"That just pumped me up even more and I've been gung ho ever since," Lippus said.

Kaufman said the American Legion fights for war veterans and their families through lobbying and charity drives.

They are looking to the community to increase their membership and take up their cause.

"Congress has gotta listen to our lobbyist more than what they are," he said. "They don't give us what we need to support the veterans the way they need to be when they come home."

Kaufman said war veterans need people like Janet Lippus.

"It just shows me the support we have out there now, that people care," he said.

Ohio ranks fifth behind New York among states that have the most iraq war casualties according to icasualties.org., which lists California and Texas first and second among casualties.

Sandusky's American Legion boasts 4,100 members: 2,500 regular members, 1,100 veteran wives, and 500 sons of veterans.