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Rock Island VFW preparing for final auction

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VFW Post 1303 hosted hundreds of events over the years. But its final event will be the saddest get-together.

"Everything in here is being sold," said longtime Post Commander P.J. Hymes.

Everything from a bingo board to a popcorn machine is going on the auction block on February 23. That includes the kitchen sink.

The VFW building, which opened in 1993, will be demolished to make way for a new Wal-Mart.

"It's really hard," Hymes continued. "I've got to bring myself to the realization that this is material."

The post still has about 350 members. You'll find the faithful each year at Chippiannock Cemetery. And you'll see them on Veterans Day at the Rock Island County Court House. Their struggle symbolizes so much.

"We had my parents' 50th anniversary here," Hymes, who served in Vietnam, continued. "We had their wakes both here. That's the type of stuff you don't forget."

Each item represents a moment in time. Some are happy, and some are sad. These are life experiences that honor veterans, families and communities.

Hymes, who signed on with the VFW in 1972, has been through it all. He's preparing now to auction nearly everything.

He will be saving a variety of historical artifacts, flags and displays that will stay with the post.

"Our organization is still alive and sound," he said. "It's just the building that closed."

Despite the emotions, it will actually be a blessing in disguise. The VFW expects to get $600,000 plus whatever it makes from the auction. Proceeds will retire its mortgage and help the group to find a new location.

"This organization has survived for over 78 years," Hymes concluded. "It will survive into the future."

The VFW auction is on Saturday, February 23. Registration starts at 8:30, and the bidding begins at 10. Post 1303 is at 3715 9th Street in Rock Island.