A century of
American Legion celebrates 100th anniversary 2019 Keepsake Edition
Published by Southern Lakes Newspapers LLC
AMERICAN LEGION 100th ANNIVERSARY
Celebrating American Legion’s 100th Anniversary By Heather Ruenz STAFF WRITER
SUBMITTED PHOTO American Legion 100th Anniversary
Ten charter members of American Legion Post 45 (now Kelly-Gardner-Katzman-Stoflet Post 45) in Elkhorn are honored for 50 years of membership in this 1969 photo. From the left are (front) Otto Bublitz, Clarence Buchholz, Alfred Godfrey, Elmer Evenson, (back) John Sigmund, Grove Harkness, Lee Dooley, Leslie Arp, Ray Babcock and Herb Zwiebel. In honor of the American Legion’s 100-year anniversary as well as the Elkhorn post’s anniversary, Post 45 would like to connect with Gold Star Mothers and descendants of the four namesakes and 10 charter members for a special ceremony in September featuring all Walworth County Legion posts.
HAPPY 100TH BIRTHDAY, AMERICAN LEGION!
The heart of The American Legion beats loudest, as we all know, at the local post… Whether (it) was chartered in 1919 or 2016, whether it’s an American Legion Baseball powerhouse or a beacon of hope for needy children at winter – or more – it has a story that needs to be told,” a piece about the national Legion’s 100th anniversary celebration eloquently states. After World War I in 1919, in France, a group of active military personnel established the American Legion as an organization to help veterans and teach democracy in America. On March 15-17 of that same year, the American Legion was born and was later recognized by the United States and approved in all 48 states. This year is the centennial celebration of the American Legion. In addition, efforts throughout the nation, many local posts, including some in southeast Wisconsin, are planning events, and one of them is also in the midst of celebrating 100 years. “Also in 1919, a group of World War I veterans in Elkhorn gathered to start a local post. In August of 1919, American Legion Kelly Post 45 was chartered and we will celebrate the 100th anniversary on Sept. 29, National Gold Star Mothers Day, at Heritage Hall in Elkhorn,” said Post 45 member Jim Boardman. “We’re hoping to connect with descendants of the 10 charter members we have a photo of from 1969 being honored for 50 years,” he said. The 10 charter members he was referring to were: Otto Bublitz, Clarence Buchholz, Alfred Godfrey, Elmer Evenson, John Sigmund, Grove Harkness, Lee Dooley, Leslie Arp, Ray
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AMERICAN LEGION 100th ANNIVERSARY
Area Legion Posts HEATHER RUENZ American Legion 100th Anniversary
This memorial is on display in downtown Sharon thanks in large part to efforts by members of Moser-Ortmann Inc. Post 130. Throughout the area, state and country, American Legion posts are staples in their local communities, from leading parades and programs to continually honoring and remembering men and women who served. In honor of the organization’s centennial celebration, many are planning special events for this year.
Babcock and Herb Zwiebel. “Through the years, as we lost citizens in wars, names were added to the Post 45 name. We’re also hoping to hear from descendants of the four people our Legion is named after since they contributed so much to our organization and community,” Boardman said. The original name of American Legion Kelly Post 45 was from 1919 in honor of Harry E. Kelly, from World War I. “For World War II, Wayne Gardner was added, then the Korean War was Ross Katzman and the fourth name was added during the Vietnam War and that was Michael Stoflet, thus the current name of Kelly-Gardner-KatzmanStoflet,” Boardman explained. Assuming they hear from descendants, Boardman said Post 45 plans to share short biographies on the 14 veterans – 10 charter members and four namesakes – in the local newspapers. Anyone with information on the veterans listed above is asked to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 262949-4646.
of the 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, France, Mexico, the Philippines and Puerto Rico. There are approximately 13,000 local posts worldwide, it states. Current national membership is about 2 million. Combined with the American Legion Auxiliary and Sons of The American Legion, membership in what is known as the American Legion Family exceeds 3 million, according to the Legion. American Legion membership is open to military personnel and veterans who have served their nation on active duty during wartime. Eligibility has been open to all who have served on active duty since Aug. 2, 1990 – the beginning of continuous U.S. armed conflict in the Middle East and other locations around the planet, the Legion states. The Legion states it has been instrumental in the creation of a number of major institutions of American society, including formation of the Department of Veterans Affairs, creation of U.S. Flag Code, passage of the GI Bill and more.
The American Legion was founded in March 1919 in Paris, France, by U.S. World War I military personnel stationed there who were dedicated to four pillars of service and advocacy: veterans, military personnel, youth and patriotic values, according to facts shared by the American Legion about the centennial celebration. Today, the American Legion consists of 55 “departments” in each
According to the national American Legion, posts throughout the country: • Donate more than 3.7 million hours of volunteer service in their communities; • Provide assistance on more than 181,000 VA benefits claims and cases; • Donate more than 80,000 pints of blood to collection centers nationwide, which makes the Legion the nation’s single largest blood donor;
• Awards more than 8,000 medals to Junior ROTC students; • Sponsors more than 2,500 Scouting units serving more than 64,000 young people; • Awards more than $4 million in college scholarships. The American Legion’s 100th anniversary mantra is “Legacy and Vision” – both a celebration of past accomplishments and a renewal of the organization’s resolve to serve communities, states and the nation for a second century. Among the prominent Americans serving on the national 100th anniversary Honorary Committee are: chairman Theodore Roosevelt IV, grandson of American Legion co-founder Theodore Roosevelt Jr.; Tom Brokaw, former American Legion Baseball player and American Legion Boys State participant; Mitch Daniels, Purdue University president, former American Legion Boys State and Boys Nation participant and former two-term governor of Indiana; Jamie Corkish, former American Legion Junior Shooting Sports champion and 2012 U.S. Olympic gold medal winner; Diane Carlson-Evans, Vietnam War combat nurse; Gen. Patrick Brady, Medal of Honor recipient; Val Nicholas, NBC News vice president; and Susan Eisenhower, international policy adviser and granddaughter of President Dwight Eisenhower. For more information, including American Legion history through a variety of avenues, to order merchandise and to access several tools to assist local posts in sharing their own history, visit legion.org/centennial.
American Legion Posts in the Southern Lakes area include the following, listed by community: Kelley-Gardner-Katzman-Stoflet Post 45, Elkhorn Rutledge-Boviall-Shauf-Madison Post 95, Delavan Frank Kresen Inc. Post 24, Lake Geneva Rice-Lemmerhart-Smith Post 327, Lyons Wilkins-Kelly Inc. Post 450, Darien Ingalls-Koeppen Inc. Post 102, Walworth Loomis-Martin Inc. Post 188, East Troy Thomas-Holcomb Inc. Post 304, Palmyra Sargent-Splechter-Schmidt Post 535, Eagle Ross Wilcox Inc. Post 79, Burlington William Graham Inc. Post 173, Whitewater Moser-Ortmann Inc. Post 130, Sharon Community Post 375, Mukwonago Sponholtz-Deignan Inc. Post 183, Genoa City Essman-Schroeder Inc. Post 20, Waterford Twin Lakes Inc. Post 544, Twin Lakes Semrau-Scott-Rausch Post 361, Twin Lakes Schultz-Hahn Inc. Post 293, Silver Lake Bixby & Hansen Inc. Post 171, Union Grove
On the cover
Members of American Legion posts throughout Walworth County take part in the raising the flag ceremony held prior to the truck pulls at the Walworth County Fair Aug. 28, 2013, with The Country Gentlemen singing patriotic songs.
HEATHER RUENZ American Legion 100th Anniversary
AMERICAN LEGION 100th ANNIVERSARY
American Legion he 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 more than 1 million, and local posts sprang up across the country. Today, membership stands at over 2 million in more than 13,000 posts worldwide. The posts are organized into 55 departments: one each for the 50 states, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, France, Mexico and the Philippines. 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. Following is a chronology of significant dates in Legion history:
Members of Whitewater American Legion Post 173 form the firing squad at the 2017 Memorial Day observances in Whitewater. BOB MISCHKA American Legion 100th Anniversary
March 15-17, 1919 Members of the American Expeditionary Force convene in Paris for the first American Legion caucus. May 8-10, 1919 St. Louis Caucus. “The American Legion” is adopted as the organization’s official name. The Legion’s draft preamble and constitution are approved. June 9, 1919 The National Executive Committee adopts the Legion emblem. Sept. 16, 1919 Congress charters The American Legion. Nov. 10-12, 1919 First Legion convention convenes in Minneapolis.
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The Constitution and preamble are adopted. Delegates vote 361-323 to locate the Legion’s national headquarters in Indianapolis, instead of Washington. A resolution is passed in support of Boy Scouts of America. Today, the Legion is the chartering agency for more than 1,700 Scouting units made up of approximately 64,000 youths. Aug. 9, 1921 The Legion’s efforts result in the creation of the U.S. Veterans Bureau, forerunner of the Veterans Administration. Today, the Legion continues to lobby for adequate funding to cover medical, disability, education and other benefits for veterans. June 15, 1923 The first “Flag Code” is drafted during a Legion conference in Washington. Congress adopts the code in 1942. Today, the Legion is at the forefront of efforts to pass a constitutional amendment to protect the U.S. flag from physical desecration. July 17, 1925 The Legion creates the American Legion Baseball program. Today, more than 50 percent of Major League Baseball players are graduates of the program. About 82,000 youths play on Legionsponsored teams each year. September 1932
Members of American Legion Loomis-Martin Post 188 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7501 form the color guard at the 2018 Veterans Day observances in East Troy. Last year was the 100th remembrance of the armistice signed the morning of Nov. 11, 1918, in Compiegne, France, which took effect at 11 a.m. (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month) The “war to end all wars” (World War I) formally ceased with the Treaty of Versailles, which was completed June 28, 1919. An estimated 9 million military personnel and 7 million civilians lost their lives in World War I and another 10 million are estimated to have died from the European famine that followed the war.
The Sons of The American Legion is officially recognized during the 1932 National Convention in Portland, Ore. June 23, 1935 The first American Legion Boys State convenes in Springfield, Ill., to help youths gain an understanding of the structure and operation of the federal government. The first Boys Nation, bringing together youth leadership from all the Boys State programs, convenes in 1946. Today, more than 19,500 young men participate in Boys State, and 98 in Boys Nation, from 49 of the 50 states. June 1, 1938 The final round of the Legion’s first annual National High School Oratorical Contest is conducted in Norman, Okla. Today, more than 3,400 high-school students from around the country compete annually in the contest, which promotes a greater understanding of the U.S. Constitution. Winners receive thousands of dollars in college scholarships.
Photos by ERIC KRAMER American Legion 100th Anniversary
Sept. 19-21, 1942 Preamble to the Constitution of The American Legion is changed for the first and only time since it was written in 1919. The word “War” is changed to “Wars.” Dec. 15, 1943 Past National Commander Harry W. Colmery starts to write in longhand, on Mayflower Hotel stationery in Washington, the first draft of what will later become the “GI Bill of Rights” – considered the Legion’s single greatest legislative achievement. June 22, 1944 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs into law the original GI Bill, or Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, ushering in monumental changes in U.S. society. Higher education becomes democratized after 8 million veterans go to school on the GI Bill, get better jobs, buy houses in the
suburbs and raise families. For every dollar spent on educating veterans, the U.S. economy eventually gets $7 back. May 29, 1946 The Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary present a small, struggling organization called the American Heart Association with a $50,000 grant. The grant inaugurates a nationwide program for the study, prevention and treatment of rheumatic heart disease. May 4, 1950 The Legion votes to contribute funds to the field of mental health, thereby playing a key role in launching the National Association for Mental Health.
July 9, 1954 The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation is formed. Today, more than $11 million has been awarded to youth organizations and projects designed to help America’s children. Sept. 1, 1966 The Legion voices great concern over the fate of prisoners of war in Vietnam. Today, the Legion urges a full accounting of all POWs and troops missing in action; and has formed a special group from among the nation’s major veterans organizations to continue pressing for further resolution of this issue.
Aug. 24, 1969 The Legion’s National Executive Committee establishes the National Emergency Fund as a result of the effects of Hurricane Camille. May 1, 1972 The Legion implements a Halloween safety program for children; it remains the only national program of its kind. April 1, 1975 The Legion-sponsored Freedom Bell goes aboard the Freedom Train during its tour of the country in celebration of the U.S. Bicentennial. Six years later, the bell is dedicated at its permanent home in Columbus
See HISTORY, Page 6
AMERICAN LEGION 100th ANNIVERSARY
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Plaza, opposite Union Station in Washington. Aug. 26, 1982 The Legion presents a $1 million check to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund for construction of the Wall in Washington, becoming the largest single contributor to the project. July 21, 1983 The Legion announces its sponsorship of an independent study on the effects of exposure to Agent Orange on Vietnam War veterans. Congress receives the results of the “American Legion-Columbia University Study of Vietnam-era Veterans” in 1989. Jan. 1, 1989
The Veterans Administration is elevated to Cabinet-level status as the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Legion fought hard for the change, arguing that veterans deserve representation at the highest levels of government. Oct. 16, 1989 The long-standing objective of the Legion to improve adjudication procedures for veterans claims is achieved when the U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals becomes operational. Most of the provisions contained in the law creating the court were originally included in the Veterans Reassurance Act, written by the Legion and introduced in Congress in 1988.
of passage in the Senate.
Aug. 2, 1990 The Legion files suit against the federal government for failure to conduct a Congress-mandated study about the effects of Agent Orange on veterans who served in Vietnam. Oct. 11, 1990 The Legion creates the Family Support Network to assist families of servicemembers deployed for operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in the Middle East. Through local posts, the network offers a wide range of assistance, including financial assistance, mowing lawns, baby-sitting and more. Today, FSN continues to assist families affected by military activation and deployment.
Sept. 24, 1994 The American Legion announces partnership with the Smithsonian Institute’s Air and Space Museum to develop an exhibit for the bomber Enola Gay, which dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. Previous museum plans had drawn intense criticism from veterans, scholars and the public. Jan. 30, 1995 The American Legion announces acceptance of scaled-down exhibit “without political commentary” for the Enola Gay, ending the greatest controversy in the Smithsonian Institute’s 149-year history. Oct. 1, 1995
June 15, 1991
HAPPY 100 TH ANNIVERSARY, AMERICAN LEGION
The Legion hosts its first Junior Shooting Sports National Air Rifle Championships at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Today, more than 2,000 high school students a year enter the contest, which teaches gun safety and marksmanship.
Aug. 24, 1994
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The Legion announces the creation of the Citizens Flag Alliance, a coalition of organizations and individual citizens united to work for a constitutional amendment to protect the U.S. flag from physical desecration. Since 1995, the amendment has passed in the House by a supermajority six times: in 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003 and 2005. In 2006, the amendment fell one vote short
The Legion forms the Persian Gulf Task Force to enhance service for the newest generation of wartime veterans, thousands of whom suffer from illnesses linked to their service in the region. Sept. 16, 1996 The Legion awards a $20,000 college scholarship to each of the 10 inaugural Samsung American Legion high school scholars. June 11, 1997
The National Emergency Fund surpasses the $1 million mark in cash grants given to flood victims who belong to the Legion family. Most grant recipients reside in the flood plains of Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana,
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Top: Dave Craig serves sausage to Jim Merlo, while Mark Gunderson and Mike Brechtl watch to make sure he doesn’t drop it during the Waterford Post 20 American Legion pancake breakfast on Oct. 20, 2018. Bottom: Dave Henningfeld and Kim Smars compete to see who can flip pancakes the fastest at breakfast at Whitford Park. The event has been taking place for 21 years and all proceeds go to sponsoring community events and scholarships. TONI SCHNEIDER American Legion 100th Anniversary
The Legion presents its first National Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award at the 79th National Convention in Orlando, Fla. March 29, 2000 Senate Joint Resolution 14, the constitutional amendment that would return the people’s right to protect the U.S. flag from physical desecration, falls four votes short of the necessary 67 to override a presidential veto. Sept. 5, 2000 The American Legion presents the first “Spirit of Service” Awards to active duty service members for their off-duty volunteer activities. Aug. 28-30, 2001 The American Legion passes resolution to rekindle Blue Star Service Banner program. Sept. 12, 2001 The American Legion reactivates the Family Support Network following terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. Oct. 10-11, 2001 The American Legion creates the American Legacy Scholarship Fund for children of military members killed in active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001. Sept. 11, 2002 The American Legion takes lead in conducting “A Day To Remember” events to mark the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the nation. November 2002 The Legion launches the national “I Am Not A Number” campaign to identify and document the delays veterans face in obtaining See HISTORY, Page 8
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The Delavan American Legion Post 95 hosted the District 1 American Legion POW/ MIA Silent March in September 2009 in Delavan. About 150 veterans, Auxiliary, SALs, families and others walked from the Legion Hall to Phoenix Park in Delavan where an observance was conducted. Grant McMillin, Elkhorn, a Korean POW, was the main speaker. Clockwise from top left: United States service members Cory Wiedenhoeft (from left), Air Force; Chris Kloiber, Navy; Erika Jacobs, Marine Corps; Lisa Loomer, Army National Guard; and John Scherer, Air Force listen to the presentation at Phoenix Park; Andy Willett of Delavan plays the bagpipes during the observance; The colors are masted prior to the march; The Color Guard arrives at Phoenix Park in Delavan. SUBMITTED PHOTOS American Legion 100th Anniversary
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medical care from VA. Oct. 17, 2003 American Legion efforts on Capitol Hill break the deadlock on the Disabled Veterans Tax when Congress creates a 10-year phase-in for serviceconnected disabled retirees to receive military retired pay and VA disability compensation without subtraction from either. Legion efforts also result in passage of the Military Family Tax Relief Act. Sept. 3, 2004 American Legion lobbying leads to more progress in elimination of the Disabled Veterans Tax with passage of PL 108-375 that eliminates the 10-year phase-in for 100 percent serviceconnected retirees, allowing them to immediately begin receiving both retired pay and VA disability payments. Sept 19, 2004 The American Legion launches a national program, the Blue Star Salute, where posts across the country hold public events to recognize troops,
AMERICAN LEGION 100th ANNIVERSARY
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Members of the American Legion Post 375 of Mukwonago gather around a cabin at Camp American Legion in 2013. The camp is in Lake Tomahawk and post members collect donations and make an annual trip up to the camp to help prepare the veteran’s retreat for the summer season
Camp American Legion Camp American Legion opens Memorial Day and closes the Sunday after Labor Day. The camp serves over 500 veterans and active duty military each summer and allows them a stay at camp completely free of charge. Eligible veterans and their families are encouraged to investigate a peaceful, fun stay here at camp. The American Legion, Department of Wisconsin provides the money to operate Camp American Legion, but veterans
their families and local businesses on Armed Forces Day. May 7, 2005 The American Legion lobbied successfully to remove from VA funding legislation administration-proposed increases in VA prescription co-payments and institution of user fee for Priority Group 8 veterans using VA health facilities. Efforts focus on legislation to provide mandatory, vice discretionary, funding of VA health care. August 2005 Delegates at the 87th National Convention in Honolulu unanimously voice their support for the global war on terrorism with Resolution 169. Oct. 17-18, 2007 The American Legion National Executive Committee passes Resolution 35 and adopts The American Legion Riders as a national program of The American Legion. The first American Legion Riders chapter was established by American Legion Post 396 in Garden City, Mich., in 1993.
do not need to be an American Legion member to qualify. The camp is a place of recreation in the heart of “vacation land” in Wisconsin’s beautiful north woods. Activities include: boats (pontoons, runabouts, canoes, paddle boats), swimming, fishing (rods, reels, tackle, bait and fishing license all included), campfires, nature paths, cookouts, peace and quiet, solitude and meditation and wildlife viewing.
June 30, 2008 President George W. Bush signs into law the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act, a next-generation GI Bill strongly supported by the Legion. The bill renews the federal government’s commitment to veterans by providing them with substantially better education benefits. The Post-9/11 GI Bill took effect Aug. 1, 2009, and sent an unprecedented number of veterans to college. Today, as at its formation, the Legion remains at the forefront of efforts to improve education and other benefits for all veterans. Oct. 22, 2009 President Obama signs the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform Act of 2009, guaranteeing “advance funding” for VA appropriations, a formula that The American Legion has strongly supported for many years. The new law sets funding for VA one year in advance. February 2010 The entire Legion family bands together and wins $250,000 for Operation Comfort Warriors in PepsiCo’s Refresh Everything Project, submitting the most votes in an online contest and beating out hundreds
Additional highlights at camp include: an activity lounge with large screen TV, satellite, movies, DVDs and computers with Wi-Fi; a health and wellness center featuring exercise and recreation equipment, pool tables, ping pong tables and a Wii gaming system; a library has books, magazines, newspapers and computers; and a chapel offering a weekly non-denominational service. For more information about Camp American Legion visit www.wilegion.org.
of other groups and charities to take first place in the contest’s first month. A big part of getting the word out was the American Legion Online Update e-newsletter. This is an early example of the still growing power of online and social media to augment everything the Legion does. October 2010 Continuing a long-standing tradition of advocating for timely and adequate medical care for veterans, the Legion forms a PTS-TBI Ad Hoc Committee to both examine current methods by VA and the Department of Defense of treating the two conditions, and investigate potential alternatives. December 2010 The Legion officially begins a relationship with United Services Automobile Association (USAA), making the veteran-founded insurance company “The American Legion’s preferred provider of financial services. The purchase of USAA products gains money for Legion programs. USAA representatives often give members helpful financial information and tips through Legion media.
Founded in 1919, the American Legion Auxiliary is the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization. The American Legion Auxiliary’s mission is to support The American Legion and to honor the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of our veterans, military, and their families, both at home and abroad. For God and country, the Auxiliary advocates for veterans, educates citizens, mentors youth, and promotes patriotism, good citizenship, peace and security. After the formation of The American Legion, a number of women’s organizations wanted to become the official affiliation of The American Legion. The women who had served so faithfully during the trying days of the war wanted to continue to serve. After careful consideration, the committee agreed that a new organization should be made up of the women most closely associated with the men of the Legion, and that these women would serve with the Legion, in peace as they had in war. The committee decided to build a new organization from the ground up, so the Auxiliary could then carry forward the phases of Legion activities more suitably performed by women. In less than one year, 1,342 local units of the Women’s Auxiliary to The American Legion had been organized in more than 45 states. Source: www.alaforveterans.org.
May 5, 2011 The National Executive Committee authorized establishment of The American Legion Amateur Radio Club to promote emergency communications and disaster preparedness, engage youth in math and science and facilitate public communications with our nation’s federally licensed amateur radio operators who are veterans. Radio Club membership opened free for members of The American Legion, The American Legion Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion who are FCC licensed ham radio operators. August 2011 The American Legion Baseball World Series is held for the first time in the tournament’s new permanent home, Shelby, N.C. Prior to this, the tournament had rotated to different cities. Total paid attendance at the Shelby contests soars to an all-time high of 86,000 total. October 2012 VA guarantees its 20 millionth home loan. 1936-1937 National Commander Harry Colmery and 1943-1944 National Commander Warren Atherton escorted
See HISTORY, Page 11
AMERICAN LEGION 100th ANNIVERSARY
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AMERICAN LEGION 100th ANNIVERSARY
Legion remembers Walworth County commander in 2010 By Dave Fidlin CORRESPONDENT
ERIC KRAMER American Legion 100th Anniversary
For years, Rich Hinners was instrumental in planning various activities at the more than 10 Legion posts in Walworth County.
Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the Walworth County Southern Lakes Newspapers in late March 2010 after Legion Commander Rich Hinners died. Harold Hruska, who was interviewed at the time, passed away Aug. 19, 2018, at the age of 80. Ask anyone at a Walworth County American Legion post if they know Rich Hinners, and the answer undoubtedly will be, “yes.” For years, he was instrumental in planning various activities at LoomisMartin Post 188 in East Troy – and the more than 10 other countywide Legion posts. Hinners died March 24, 2010, at age 75. At the time of his death, he served as commander of all Walworth County posts and was instrumental in the five-year-old Support Our Troops Committee. Hinners, an East Troy resident, served in the U.S. Army as a military intelligence specialist. Since news broke of his death, fellow legionnaires have paused to remember the influence Hinners had on the community.
Harold Hruska, a member of the Loomis-Martin Post, had worked alongside Hinners for about a decade. “He was really quite a leader,” Hruska said. “He was very active in so many different ways. I was pleased to have known him.” Thomas Kostopoulos, a former Loomis-Martin post commander, said he considered Hinners “a good friend” who was always willing to step in and help. Every Memorial Day, like clockwork, he would be out selling poppies to raise awareness for the Legion. He also was involved in countless other fundraisers. “It’s going to take a lot of people to fill his shoes,” Kostopoulos said. “He was actively involved in so many things, and that’s become apparent to a lot of us now that he’s no longer here.” Kostopoulos said a fitting saying was mentioned of Hinners at his funeral service March 30 at East Troy Bible Church: “If Post 188 was there, Rich was there.” One of Hinners’ most notable contributions in recent years has been his active role on the Walworth County Support Our Troops Committee, a group that has been holding rallies at 11 a.m.
Monday mornings at the Government Center in Elkhorn to honor veterans of some of the most recent wars. The committee, formed Nov. 29, 2004, was established to recognize troops and families with Walworth Coun-ty ties that are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, or have served and have since returned. “We send packages to veterans and families that we are aware of throughout the county,” Hruska said. “It’s important to us that we recognize what these people are doing for our country.” As county commander, Hinners also was instrumental in creating a joint vision for the various posts. Some of the larger posts in Walworth County include William Gra-ham Post 173 in Whitewater and Rutledge-Boviall Post 95 in Delavan. “Some of the posts are quite large, while some of the others are smaller,” Hruska said. “They range anywhere in size from 35 to 250 (members).” At the time of his death, Hinners was survived by numerous family members, including his wife of nearly 51 years, Carol, and six children: Deborah (Ray) Cukjati, David (Maria), Diana (Rick) St. John, Daniel, Richard (Marla) and Catherine.
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the original GI Bill of Rights through Congress in 1944, arguing passionately for veterans educational benefits, governmentassured health care and what they called “readjustment allowances.” Today Colmery and Atherton are lauded as the “fathers of the GI Bill” and its successors. Aug. 30, 2013 National Commander James E. Koutz announced that the American Legion family raised more than $1.1 million for Operation Comfort Warriors during the 2012-2013 fundraising year. It easily surpassed his original goal of $500,000. 2014 In the midst of a VA waiting-list scandal that reached up to the deaths of veterans waiting for care, The American Legion calls for the resignations of several top officials, including VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. The scandal would ultimately engulf multiple facilities and offices; the Legion kept the issue in front of the public and Congress via articles and testimony. August 2014 National Commander Michael D. Helm announces that Legion Family members and friends donated more than $4 million (his goal) to Legion charities and programs during his year in office. July 2016 The Legacy Scholarship is expanded to children of post-9/11 veterans who have a combined VA disability rating of 50 percent or greater. June 2017 Created to hold VA employees more accountable, the Department of Veterans
FILE PHOTO American Legion 100th Anniversary
Members of the Twin Lakes American Legion Post 544 form the color guard for the 2014 Fourth of July parade in Twin Lakes.
Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 is passed by Congress in concert with The American Legion. A longtime goal of the Legion, this legislation gives the VA secretary the authority to terminate the employment of VA employees who do not hold the standard of the VA’s missions, to help veterans. The American Legion worked hard with Congress, VA and others to create and pass this much needed veterancentric legislation.
August 2017 The Legion assists in the creation and eventual passage of the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act, which modernizes the current appeals process at the Department of Veterans Affairs, forcing VA to render a decision on a veterans claim within one year. August 2017 The American Legion, in concert with others, creates, advocates for and passes the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2017. Named after the author of the original GI Bill and Past
National Commander of The American Legion, the new GI Bill improves upon the great foundation that already existed, removing the burdensome cap to use the education benefit, along with many other great additions to the legislation aimed at improving the lives of veterans and their families. August 2017 Denise H. Rohan of Wisconsin is elected national commander, the first woman to hold the role in the Legion’s history. Source: www.legion.org.
AMERICAN LEGION 100th ANNIVERSARY
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