On Saturday, October 26, the American Legion Post #47 will celebrate 100 years of service and camaraderie for veterans from World War I to the Middle East conflicts of the last few years. Coincidentally, this is the centennial anniversary of the national organization as well.
For the Hamilton Post, this celebration will give the public a chance to look at the upgrades the Post has made to Post home at 322 S. 2nd in this last year, including a new roof, paint, hardscape outside, and a new, rust proof flag pole.
The Post was chartered in 1919 and given the name ‘Ravalli’ Post because it covered all of the county at that time. The first commander was TW Lockwood. For many years, a new commander was selected each year but in the recent past, the commanders have held their positions for several years. The current commander is Ruth Cook who is a Vietnam veteran, and the Post’s first female commander.
The event on Saturday will be a trip back in history with uniforms from World War I and II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and the Middle East conflicts on display. Of special interest are five scrapbooks from World War II composed entirely of newspaper clippings about the valley men, and women, who served during the war. This was put together by Grace Hornung who lived in Victor during the war.
As you enter the building, the first thing you see will be a table with a white linen table cloth, an empty chair, and a complete table setting. Each of the items on the MIA table has a special significance. The sight is quite profound. Cook said there will be a paper explaining everything there during the open house.
Recently, a box of photographs was found in the Legion Hall. Helen Eden of Hamilton has taken it upon herself to identify these soldiers and has worked with the Ravalli County Museum and the public to do so. She will be on hand with the portraits and hopes that more veterans in the photos will be identified.
Another corner of the hall will be devoted to Quilts of Valor. Quilts of Valor are handmade quilts that are given to soldiers who have had physical or psychological injuries; or in some cases, parents, spouses, or children of these veterans. Cook said that a group of quilters named the Sew What Quilters provide 12 quilts a year to the Legion. One quilt will be raffled off during the event on Saturday.
There will be a silent auction on Saturday at the open house. Proceeds from the auction will go towards reducing the debt on the new roof. There will also be finger foods and light refreshments during the day along with two cakes. Cook said everyone is welcome to attend.
Post #47 has about 128 members but they are aging. Cook said the younger veterans aren’t joining yet but she hopes they will. The Post takes care of putting crosses at the Grantsdale Cemetery and the Hamilton Cemetery. Last year they put out 1,026 crosses and flags. They also handle the highway fatality marker program, sponsor Boy Scouts, Boys State, the Bitterroot Red Sox baseball team, as well other community projects. There is also a Women’s Auxiliary group who funds Girls State.
Saturday’s events will officially begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday, but there will be a flag raising at 10 a.m. and Cook will give a short speech. The event will run until 3 p.m. Many of the local members will be on hand. The public is invited.