Jack Freiberg is a 90-year-old past post commander. He spent his entire life, up until the last three years, in North Platte, Neb. He now lives in Minneapolis with his daughter and son-in-law. I am absolutely certain you will never meet a man as proud to be an American and an ex-Navy man.
Edwin Newman, ’63 Convention speaker
I am a past commander of Post 163 in North Platte, Neb. Back in '63 we had the state convention in North Platte. It was my job to get the guest speaker. I said I wanted Edwin Newman and was told he’d never come to North Platte. Never one to turn down a challenge, I did get Mr. Newman to come and speak at our convention. My wife Helen and I went to the airport to meet him. I invited him to come to the Legion club after he was checked in and rested.
When he showed up at the club in his suit and tie, I said, "the first things you need to do are take off your coat and tie and relax." We had a table saved and spent some time getting to know each other. Soon he became just one of the guys.
We had a parade for Mr. Newman with floats and pretty girls. The Legionnaires filled the street blocking traffic on Highway 30. The police helped out by rerouting the traffic around us. Everyone was having a great time, which lasted into the night at the Legion.
The next morning we created a wakeup committee. We knew which rooms the legionnaires were sleeping in and went door to door with a cart full of coffee, beer, whiskey and Cokes. We had four guys to a cart and hit every motel with a Legionnaire registered. By the end of the morning, everyone was up and at 'em. We didn’t want the fun the night before to cause them to miss the speech.
After the speech, which was great, we met Mr. Newman at his car and handed him and envelope with his fees. He said, “What’s this?” When told, he said it was the first time he had ever been paid for a speaking engagement on the spot. He also said he was very impressed with the North Platte American Legion and would mention us on his show.
When I was commander, I also started a program recognizing Eagle Scouts. The American Legion presented each new Eagle Scout and his scoutmaster a certificate from the Legion honoring them for this great achievement.
Both of these events, I am very proud to say, happened on my watch as commander of Post 163.