Couple from The Netherlands visit Starks VFW Post

By Sissy Borel

The Starks Memorial VFW Post #4759 hosted a Louisiana dinner of gumbo, rice, potato salad, blueberry cobbler, bread pudding and cake for Marcel and Mellany Leenders from the Netherlands and 50 guests.

Marcel and Mellany work as “Sentinals of Memory” for American soldiers from World War II buried in the Henri Chappell Cemetery in Belgium. Marcel has served as “Sentinal” for Harold Barnes’s grave for several years. Harold is Jim’s father so they came here to surprise him and find out all the history they could about Harold. The Leenders brought a PowerPoint presentation about the cemetery and a little about their history. Their gift to Jim was a picture of Harold’s headstone.

Auxiliary President #4759 Ella Wilson presented the couple with a Louisiana shaped plaque with symbols of things grown there or from the area on it. Borel gave each one of the shirts from her year as National President with an American flag and soldier on them. Barnes family members had given them Tony Chachere’s, Tex-Joy steak seasoning and other Texas and Louisiana flavors to take home.

About 35 family and friends of the Barnes family were to meet at Jim’s home on Thursday night to share stories about Harold with the Leenders.

We thank Marcel and Mellany for what they do for our soldiers buried there and their efforts to help keep their memory alive.