REGION—One hundred years ago, members of the American Expeditionary Force convened in Paris, France on March 15, four months and four days following the November armistice which ended the combat in World War I.
The meeting was the first ever American Legion caucus, a momentous occasion which formed what Governor Tom Wolf referred to as “a preeminent community service organization.”
In a letter commemorating March 15th as “Pennsylvania American Legion Day,” Wolf noted there are over 140,000 legionnaires and over 120,000 family members representing more than 700 American Legion posts, squadrons, chapters and units in the Commonwealth.
Worldwide, the American Legion claims over 2 million members in 13,000 posts across the globe.
Since its inception, the American Legion has worked to benefit veterans of the armed forces and the communities to which they return after serving.
“We're here to support the vets,” said Jim English, Deputy Commander of the American Legion's 15th District in the Department of Pennsylvania. “It's what we do.”
English noted Legion members assist veterans in arranging medical visits and will even accompany the patient during treatment.
James Bruck, Commander of American Legion Post 254 Honesdale noted the organization played a major role alongside the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the Office of Veterans' Affairs (VA), and medical professionals to create a veterans' clinic in Honesdale.
The clinic helps veterans in Wayne and Pike Counties receive minor testing and treatment, said Bruck, noting that the nearest VA hospital is in Wilkes-Barre.
“The Legion, for the last 100 years, has helped out with the support of veterans and their families,” said Bruck.
The Commander also stated, “We try to help the community in several different ways.”
Some prominent community programs sponsored by local Legion posts include the annual Keystone Boys State and Keystone Girls State conferences.
Each year, posts sponsor local students to attend the state conference where they learn about various civic duties and how state and local governments work.
Local Legion posts also sponsor teens interested in law enforcement or military service to attend the annual State Police Youth Week.
The camp allows its attendees to learn about the ins and outs of law enforcement operations.
The Legion also supports students and the community through various scholarship and scouting programs, and the American Legion Baseball program.
Honoring the Legion
In commemoration of the American Legion's centennial, Representative Mike Peifer (R-139th Wayne/Pike) recalled playing Legion baseball for five years.
Peifer noted each game began “... with both competing teams and the umpire reciting a pledge as a promise that we would be honest, honorable in victory or defeat, humble and remain true to ourselves and our teammates. It is a pledge that I keep with me today and use on a daily basis in my capacity as an elected official.”
With a salute to veterans' bravery, Peifer added, “I think it’s important to understand the great impact this organization has on our society with their actions and spirit following their return home of protecting our great nation.
Similarly, Representative Jonathan Fritz (R-111th, Wayne/Susquehanna) stated, “We are truly indebted to the men and women who serve our nation.
“I want to thank all veterans for preserving the land of the free, safeguarding this wonderful place to raise a family and pursue the American dream and putting their own lives on hold to protect the rights and safety of all American citizens.”
Noting her great-grandfather was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic and her father served as a member of the American Legion Daddow-Isaac Post 672 in Dallas, Senator Lisa Baker (R-20th, Wayne/ Pike/ Susquehanna/ Wyoming/ Luzerne) stated, “For the American Legion and its members, the principle of service with honor never goes out of fashion. The programs and support provided to veterans and their families, the significant opportunities legionnaires have guided into law, and the community importance of Legion Posts are contributions worthy of celebration.”
Baker concluded, “We are proud to commend the continuing record of solid commitment and uncommon service as the American Legion begins its second century. We are grateful they will be standing just as strong for the veterans of today and tomorrow.”
In his letter recognizing American Legion Day, Wolf stated, “Through a vision of the Four Pillars of Service: a strong national security, taking care of veterans, mentoring youth, and promoting patriotism, this organization has made an indelible impact on communities throughout the Commonwealth.
To celebrate the Legion's centennial, starting today at noon, commemorative coins minted from the United States Mint will be on sale from www.legion.org/coin.
Those interested can also call 1-800-872-6468 to order coins.
The mint will produce 50,000 $5 gold coins, 400,000 silver dollars and 750,000 half-dollar to mark the occasion.
Prices were not available at the time of publication Wednesday afternoon, however the introductory price will only hold until 3 p.m. on April 15, states a Legion press release.
Proceeds from the coin sales will go to support Legion programs and the communities they serve.
Posts and meeting dates
American Legion Posts in Wayne County include:
• Post 254, Honesdale—meets on the 4th Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Chamber of Commerce building (32 Commercial Street, Honesdale) under the command of James A. Bruck. Legion Phone: 570-729-8323.
• Wilson-Kelch Post 311, Hawley—meets on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Legion building (521 Church Street, Hawley) under the command of Joseph Majesky. Legion Phone: 670-226-9998.
• Post 889, Waymart—meets on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. under the command of George Schaffer.
• Post 808, Rock Lake—meets on the 3rd Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Legion building (2044 Creamton Drive, Pleasant Mount) under the command of Jerome V Ott, Jr. Legion Phone: 570-448-2690.
• Costello-Monahan-Brown Post 964, Pleasant Mount—meets on the 1st Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Legion building (395 Great Bend Turnpike,
Pleasant Mount) under the command of T. J. Bendyk. Legion Phone: 570-448-2817.
• Teeple-Stevenson-Young Post 765, Equinunk—meets on Wednesdays at 7 p.m.
• Six Star Post 209, Lake Como—meets on the last Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. on the first floor of the Legion building (412 Como Road, Lake Como) under the command of Lynn F. Soden. There is no meeting in December.
• Staff Sgt. Paul A. Sweeney Post 807, Hamlin—meets on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Hamlin Senior Center (606 PA-590, Hamlin) under the command of Walter G. Hyzer. Legion Phone: 570-226-4503.
• Phillips-Zacharias-Phillips Post 859, Newfoundland—meets on the 1st Monday of each month at 1 p.m. in the Legion Building (14 American Legion Drive, Newfoundland) under the command of John J. Sparks, Jr. Legion Phone: 570-676-5645.
More information about the American Legion and specific post locations is available online at www.legion.org.