Legion To Celebrate A Century Of Service

The Oskaloosa American Legion (file photo/Ginger Allsup)

Oskaloosa, Iowa – Many historical events of the 20th Century can trace their roots to the war to end all wars, World War One. Many will argue that other wars and conflicts of that century and today, are as a result of that war, including the second world war, and the war on terror.

Many good things can trace their roots back to that war, one of them being the American Legion.

On March 15, 1919, the organization was founded at the American Club in Paris, France by members of what was known as the American Expeditionary Forces, and then chartered by the United State Congress on September 16, 1919.

“Several thousand soldiers were waiting to come home from World War I, to try to help ease the pain, they held a caucus,” explained District 5 Commander Darrin Alderson.

Once those members of that caucus arrived back to the United States after the war, they set out to get a federal charter, and the United States Congress granted them their charter.

Congress sets the eligibility dates for the American Legion, and when a service member would be eligible to become a Legion member. Right now, service members that were honorably discharged or that are still serving honorably, serving from August 2, 1990, to present day are eligible to become American Legion members.

Other eligible conflicts and wars include; Panama, Lebanon and Grenada, Vietnam War, Korean War, and World War II.

The last WWI American veteran passed away in 2011.

The American Legion has been advocating for changes in those eligibility dates to allow those individuals who served in combat operations during times of peace to become eligible, which would allow those service members to utilize the Veterans Administration to its fullest extent.

Others that would benefit include Cold War service members, some of who worked around nuclear weapons, giving them an opportunity to get claims.

“Part of the Legion’s history is we help found the Veterans Administration, and its oversight,” says Alderson. “Somehow it kind of got out of hand on us; now we’re trying to reel it back in, and get it back under control.”

“We believe it’s a system worth saving because a lot of doctors that specialize in the VA are trained a little bit different than your civilian doctors on how you treat the veterans, because the veterans have been through different types of traumatic situations compared to your civilian world.”

The Oskaloosa American Legion Post was the 34th such post to be chartered in Iowa.

District 5 Commander Darrin Alderson shared that the Harry L. Anderson Legion Post 34 will be celebrating the occasion on Friday, March 15, 2019.

The Post’s scrapbooks will be on display, including those from the earliest days of the Post. That first scrapbook might not be in the best shape; the story it tells of those early days for the American Legion is a unique and storied one.

“It’s kind of a unique story on how the first Post came about,” said Alderson. “Council Bluffs and Spencer were in a race to get back to Des Moines. One post went by rail; the other one went by car. Well the one that went by car got stuck in the mud about 2 hours from Des Moines, and guys on the train beat them that way, and that’s how Spencer became number one.”

“It tells that in our post scrapbook,” says Alderson. “Something unique with our Post is we have 2 post commanders in the first year. The nearest that we can tell is, the one Post Commander signed the charter, and then once the department approved the temporary charter, we elected a new Post Commander.”

“Peter Hore was the first Post Commander, and then CB Arnold became the second of the first year,” added Alderson.

The namesake of the Post, Harry L. Anderson, is said to be the Mahaska County resident killed in World War I. “He was a bugler, and he was running papers back and forth along the line and was shot by a sniper,” Alderson said. “So that’s how our namesake came to be. If I remember right, he was only 17 years of age.”

On Friday evening, a former American Legion National Commander will join the Post, and be the guest speaker, and there will be a meal along with cake.

While searching Post history for the occasion, it was discovered that there is a time capsule. “So the idea is to open the time capsule that we have, take that stuff out of that first time capsule, put it into a new one, and then add to it for it to be opened at the end of the next 100 years.”

Members of Post 34 who are current on their dues may attend. Current members may bring a guest, and we are limiting the number of guests to one due to limited seating. The birthday meal will be Beef-n-Noodles, vegetable, mashed potato, and birthday cake.

Alderson asks that everyone RSVP by March 12th, 2019 10:00 pm.

Posted by on Mar 10 2019. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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