American Legion celebrates a century of service

Please join the members of the American Legion Post 130, January 25, as we celebrate the 100th Anniversary of The American Legion. This year long celebration started early last spring across the nation as Posts hosted festivities to honor the legacy of one of the largest veteran’s service organizations in the world.

This Saturday’s program will start with a video presentation at 3 p.m. in the hall and a more in depth history on our local post as well as National. A Meatloaf dinner will be served after the program for a donation. And then we will bring in the band with Desperado playing in the lounge from 6:00 p.m. till 10:00 p.m. The program and dinner is open to the public in the non-smoking Hall. We welcome all Veteran’s and family members.

The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization. Focusing on service to veterans, service members and communities, the Legion evolved from a group of war-weary veterans of World War I into one of the most influential nonprofit groups in the United States. Membership swiftly grew to over 1 million, and local posts sprang up across the country. Today, membership stands at nearly 2 million in more than 13,000 posts worldwide. Over the years, the Legion has influenced considerable social change in America, won hundreds of benefits for veterans and produced many important programs for children and youth.

It took many years later before LaBelle chartered their first Post. Prior to World War II in the early days of LaBelle an earlier post, named after Gerald Crawford Crews, the first doughboy from what was then known as Eastern Lee County. Gerald Crawford Crews was the first Eastern Lee County Veteran to die in World War I. Unfortunately this Post had ceased to exist in the late 1920’s when LaBelle was experiencing the shock of a collapsing economy known as the “Florida Boom”.

LaBelle’s home Post Dana-Howard-Weekly was founded in the early 1930’s by Jennings D. McLeod, a veteran of the Spanish American War, the Boxer Rebellion in China and World War I, had been a Legionnaire prior to moving to LaBelle in the late 1930’s. He sensed a need for an American Legion Post in LaBelle as a voice not only for the area’s World War I veterans but also for returning World War II servicemen. This is still true today as the torch of responsibility is passed to each generation of Veterans. The mix of young and seasoned Veteran’s is the base of each Post.

As offspring of the Legion, The American Legion Auxiliary has become the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization, with over 10,000 Units located throughout the United States and some foreign countries; the Auxiliary embodies the spirit of America that has prevailed through war and peace. Along with The American Legion, it solidly stands behind America and her ideals. And as recently as this year, has welcomed spouses of all Veteran’s, not just wives to join in membership.

The Auxiliary shines as an example of unselfish giving. With almost a million members from all walks of life, the Auxiliary administers hundreds of volunteer programs, gives tens of thousands of hours to its communities and to veterans. The organization has expanded to include succeeding generations of veterans who served in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Granada, Panama, Persian Gulf, Bosnia, and now Iraq and Afghanistan. Like the Legion, the Auxiliary’s interests have broadened to encompass the entire community.

The Sons of The American Legion (S.A.L.) was created in 1932 as an organization within The American Legion. The S.A.L. is made up of boys and men of all ages whose parents or grandparents served in the United States military and became eligible for membership in The American Legion. There are over 5,500 Squadrons worldwide and the S.A.L membership has grown to over 325,000 members. This arm of the Legion gives the help needed from a younger and growing membership.

The American Legion Riders has become a popular and helping hand to the many causes of the American Legion and each community causes. The LaBelle Chapter, founded in 2003, strived to make a positive mark on the area. They continue to help through charitable acts and scholarships for needed programs in the Legion family and community.

LaBelle Post 130 has been an active member of the LaBelle community since it’s beginning. Each member has an opportunity to volunteer for special activities such as: Dinners, Ceremonial events including Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day and Burial Obligations. Annual projects such as the Christmas Dinners for homebound individuals in our area, serving over 550 this year. Breakfast with Santa serving over 200 children free. Over the years sponsoring baseball teams, nursing students and scholarships. For the last 30 plus years, the Legion and the Auxiliary sponsor high school students for Boys and Girls State, which enriches their knowledge in state government as well as building leadership skills.

One of the highlights of the last ten years has been the partnership of building of the LaBelle Veteran’s Memorial Park. This active community project has shaped into a memorial in the center of LaBelle for everyone to remember and honor our Veterans past and present.

The most important points of the Legion are the behind the scenes activities, that help our Veterans each day across the nation, state and locally. So join fellow Veterans and their families and bring your fun memories, as they reminisce about the highlights and accomplishments from past years.

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