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Rotary Happenings: Rotarians help with meal packing event, Taste of the Islands

By Staff | Nov 21, 2018

PHOTO PROVIDED Rotarian Roger Triftshauser, with the Lee Coast Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America, was the guest speaker at the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club's recent meeting.

“Rotary in Action” is the catch-phrase this year for letting everyone know what Rotarians are doing in their community and beyond. Well, a recent past weekend Rotarians were an extremely busy group.

Rotarian Roger Triftshauser, with the Lee Coast Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America, was the guest speaker at the club’s meeting on Nov. 9. The MOAA is a group of military officers who never stop serving veterans, in partnership with their foundation, by providing services and support for veteran programs and high school and collegiate military programs and by working with community and educational organizations. Triftshauser reflected on the history of the U.S. servicemen and women who have protected the liberties and freedom of many throughout the world.

On Nov. 11, bells tolled to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I Armistice Day. Veterans Day is Nov. 11 because on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month at 11 a.m. Paris time – Nov. 11, 1918 – the Armistice between the Allies and the Central Powers took effect. “Many servicemen refer to WWI as the forgotten war or unknown war,” Triftshauser said, because of the lack of public attention it received during and after the war. Yet during WWI, a total of 116,516 American troops were killed. The United States sent 4,355,000 soldiers to participate in the war and roughly 7 percent of them were killed, injured or captured. The first three men to die in combat were Cpl. James Bethel Gresham, Pvt. Merle David Hay and Pvt. Thomas F. Enright.

Summarizing a late friend’s words – Congressman Barber B. Conable, past president of World Bank and a Marine Iwo Jima survivor – in talking about the brave men and women who sacrificed much for our country in the time of battle, Triftshauser said:

“You can all think of somebody fine who would be with us today, a soldier who might have stayed in their foxhole a minute longer or moved their head 8 inches to the right at a critical moment, or if a sniper had just wavered. That friend would have had a chance to be a good father, or have his own business, or serve on a school board. Our good fortune to not be that person, carries with it an obligation to do a little of his work as well as our own, to make the world a little better place than it otherwise would be.”

PHOTO PROVIDED On Nov. 10, the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary and Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ sponsored a Meals of Hope meal packing event.

Triftshauser spent 33 years in the Navy, six active and 27 in the Reserve, rising to the rank of rear admiral, though his time in service did not send him to the frontlines. As he said, “I’m no ace pilot or Navy seal. I’ve never been down in the trenches, but as a Navy dentist, you might say, instead of scaling cliffs, mountains and desert terrains, I scaled teeth. One phrase we did coin for the Dental Corps was: You can’t fight, if you can’t bite.” All joking aside, Triftshauser was part of the whole – a dedicated military officer, looking after men and women, who served our country and sacrificed much. He continues today serving those men and women, maybe in a different capacity, but all the same.

Triftshauser shared stories and facts about other wars – World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf Wars, Iraq, and Afghanistan – all important military engagements, all important to the men and women who served our country and their families that sacrificed so much. Let’s never forget to say these true American heroes, “Thank you for your service.”

On Nov. 10, the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary and Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ sponsored a Meals of Hope meal packing event, with a gathering of 100-plus volunteers at the ready. The goal was to package up 25,000 meals for distribution by the Feeding America Food Bank Network to victims of natural disasters and to food banks, food pantries and economically-depressed areas. Rotarians, The Sanibel School Rotary Interact club members and advisor, church and youth group members, San-Cap Rotary exchange student from Taiwan and community members at-large accomplished the goal in just two hours – thank you all for a job well done.

One last thing to do over the weekend for Rotarians was to grab their traffic safety vests and parking batons as it was time to direct traffic and park cars for CROW’s Taste of the Islands on Nov. 11. “Service Above Self” is the club’s motto and Rotarians don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk.

The club will not hold a meeting on Nov. 23 due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

For information about the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club, visit sanibelrotary.org or www.facebook.com/sancaprotary. The club meets every Friday at 7 a.m. at the Dunes Golf and Tennis Club, at 949 Sand Castle Road, Sanibel; visitors are welcome to attend.