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American Legion celebrates 100 years

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In March of 1919, four months after the conclusion of combat in Europe during World War I, a group of American soldiers still stationed in Paris decided to create an organization to benefit those returning home from war. It would serve as a place for them to feel welcomed, no matter where they were, as well as a place where people could give back to their community.

Shortly after, the American Legion was chartered by the federal government, and posts were established throughout the country. Glenwood Landing American Legion Post 336 was built in September, 1919, which has been going strong ever since and celebrated its 100th anniversary on Sept. 21.

Roughly 125 guests gathered at the American Legion for an evening of dinner and dancing, as well as to honor the newly installed officers of the post. It was an important night for the post, said house chairman and Board of Directors member Ken Kraft, as it showed that it was still an important part of the community. Its membership has declined in recent years, he said, as nearly all of its World War II veterans have died, who made up a bulk of its membership for decades.

Post commander Bob Bazan honored members who had served in World War II during his introductory speech. He expressed appreciation for veterans of all wars and military branches, going back to the post’s founders. Board of Director President Angelo Grande spoke about the history and importance of the post before attendees enjoyed a dinner provided by Tulip Caterers and the dessert prepared by the Ladies Auxiliary.

In the days following the event, Grande said the centennial celebration was a sign of determination and perseverance because the post had fallen on hard financial times on several occasions throughout its long history.

“I think it’s a tribute to the membership and to the past members and veterans,” he said. “It’s amazing that we made 100 because it wasn’t always peaches and roses.”

Bazan said Post 336 is special because it represents a close-knit North Shore community. There is not a very high population of veterans in the area, he said, so it’s important for veterans, especially the young ones, to know that they have a place to call home.

Veterans were not the only ones in attendance. Several local and state dignitaries came by to show their appreciations, as did a good amount of normal community members, something which Bazan said he appreciated.

“The nice thing about the legion is that, yes there are a lot of veterans there, but also a lot of non-veterans,” he said, “so you’re bridging that gap in the community.”