Organizers of the American Legion’s 100 years of service celebration announced more details about the event coming this month.
As recently reported, local historian Paul LaRue will be the keynote speaker and former Miami Trace superintendent Dan Roberts will emcee on March 23 for a special event to celebrate the long life of the organization. The event will be held at the American Legion Post 25 with a social hour beginning at 6 p.m., and the program starting at 7 p.m.
Additionally, organizers encouraged the community Wednesday to prepare for a full day of celebration starting at noon with an open house on March 23. The open house will be held until the social hour starts at 6 p.m. and will feature several veteran organizations. These organizations — which include the Veterans Service Commission, Honor Flight and possibly even a booth for the Fayette County Honor Guard — will set a table up and explain their organization to guests. Whether it concerns the history of the post or helping veterans find structure in civilian life, these organizations will be on hand to answer questions to the public and veterans in attendance.
In an effort to celebrate the long life of the organization, Fayette County Honor Guard member and local veteran Glenn Rankin helped to explain the 25 years following World War II.
Rankin said membership following this particular 25-year time-frame started a decline they still see — despite numerous attempts to increase membership being shown in past newspaper articles in the Record-Herald dating back to the 1950s — but it flourished considerably after World War II through the Vietnam War.
An article from Dec. 5, 1945 stated that father and son combinations grew in the organization as fathers were members from serving in World War I, and sons would join after returning from World War II. As time progressed, more wars and conflicts would crop up, including the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and it was decided over time to allow some of these veterans to join the organization.
In an article from the 1960s, the American Legion Post 25 was the host for the Seventh District business session where Dr. Michael J. Chakeres, first vice commander of the Ohio American Legion, predicted that an amendment to the organization’s constitution would be adopted by the national American Legion by August 1964, allowing veterans of the Vietnam War to apply for membership. He also said that membership in the state at the time was about 1,500 ahead of the same date the previous year, and was continuing to grow, both within Ohio and nationally. By the mid-1970s membership at the local post was around 430 members.
The post was considerably busy during this time, as according to articles from the Record-Herald throughout the 50s and 60s, the organization continued to raise money for soldiers, held monthly dinners, participated in state conventions where they won some awards, and continued to help veterans with food and adjusting to life back in the states. The origins of the Fayette County Honor Guard could also be seen as Post 25 would hold graveside military services while Taps would be played, a firing squad would honor the fallen and a flag folding would occur.
This is the second in a series of four articles detailing the history and celebration of the American Legion Post 25 and covers the second 25 years (1945-1970). Stay with the Record-Herald as coverage continues in the next article with a brief explanation of the next 25 years leading up to the 100-year celebration this month. The information in this article was provided by research completed by Glenn Rankin.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.