Stories in new book reflect American Legion’s contributions to Steamboat Springs
Harriet Freiberger and American Legion Post 44 historian Jim Stanko have been working on “Homecoming: Soldiers leave … veterans return” for nearly three years, but they will tell you the stories that fill the book’s pages have taken a century to tell.
Freiberger and Stanko, who served with the U.S. Army from 1970-72, will be on hand to sign copies of the book during a release party from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, March 4, at the Steamboat Springs Community Center, 1605 Lincoln Ave. Copies of the book, which details the stories of the men and women who’ve shaped the history of the American Legion, Leo Hill Post 44, will be on sale for $20.
“I really want to emphasize that this is a lot more than a book signing — it’s an event,” Stanko said. “The idea is for people to come and not only get a book, and get a book signed, but to be able to walk around and see and read some of the history of what the post has done over the years.”
The event is open to the community, and Stanko hopes people will take the time to come out and learn what the post has done in Steamboat Springs.
The plan is to have posterboards set up around the room so people can read about the American Legion Post, which dates back to 1919. The book reflects the contributions of veterans from the Civil and Spanish-American Wars.
What: Book release party for “Homecoming: Soldiers leave … veterans return”
When: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, March 4
Where: Steamboat Springs Community Center, 1605 Lincoln Ave.
Info: The event is being hosted by members of the American Legion, Leo Hill Post 44. Signed copies of the book, which reflects the American Legion’s 100-plus years in Steamboat can be purchased for $20.
Freiberger interviewed more that 50 veterans and poured through historical documents, including the pages of the Steamboat Pilot & Today, to compile the book. Katie Berning designed the pages, and the cover features the artwork of veteran Larry Guss, who died in April 2021.
The book recounts the contributions of men and women who have served the country, as well as the contributions the American Legion has made in the local community.
It also documents the veterans who served in World War I and World War II, as well as soldiers who served in places like Korea and Vietnam. Readers will see the story of Col. Robert Waggoner, who was shot down over North Vietnam and spent more than six years as a prisoner of war.
The book also recognizes the Cold War and those that responded following 9/11 in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. The book ends with several open pages, where veteran can add their own stories if they chose.
Stanko said the American Legion estimates there may be 1,300 veterans living in Steamboat Springs.
Freiberger dedicated the book to the men and women of her community who, as members of the military, have sworn to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.
She also thanked her late husband, Fry, who served in the U.S. Navy in 1957-58. Freiberger said that when they moved to Steamboat Springs in 1982, her husband got involved with the American Legion, which welcomed him with open arms.
She also thanked her daughter Jeri, as well as her brothers Charles, who served in the U.S. Army, and Ted, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
“They were really welcoming,” Freiberger said of the members of American Legion Post 44. “I mentioned that to one of the grandsons of a World War I veteran and he said, ‘Well, let’s hope we do the same thing to the next group that comes in,’ and I thought, ‘That’s what the legion is all about.'”
Proceeds from sales of the book will be given back to veterans through the American Legion Post’s relief fund.
“I’m just trying to say thank you,” Freiberger said of writing the book. “I feel so indebted to these people.”
John F. Russell is the business reporter at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach him, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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