Chillicothe's American Legion Post 25 celebrates 100 years

The American Legion Post 25 is celebrating 100 years in Chillicothe.

According to the American Legion’s website, “The American Legion was chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization devoted to mutual helpfulness. It is the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization, committed to mentoring youth and sponsorship of wholesome programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security, and continued devotion to our fellow service members and veterans.”

Chillicothe’s American Legion Post 25 was established on July 25, 1919, after 15 founding members signed the charter. The first signature was from World War II Nurse, Emma Evans.

Ed Allender, district commander for American Legion District 2, said Post 25 has one World War II service member, the other 121 are veterans from the Korean War, Vietnam War, Desert Storm and other “younger wars."

The American Legion is committed to helping youth.

“We really try to be involved in anything that involves the youth and supporting them,” Allender said.

Since 1924 the American Legion in Chillicothe has supported a local American Legion baseball team. Allender said that nationally, the program has produced 51 major league baseball players, including Missouri’s Yogi Berra. Berra, a famed New York Yankees player, whose real name was Lawrence Peter Bera was inducted into the Navy in 1943 as a gunners mate aboard a rocket boat that was involved in the D-Day Invasion.

The Legion also supports an Americanism Essay contest, Boys State, Cadet Patrol and Boy Scouts.

“The American Legion is one of the founding members of getting Boy Scouts started,” Allender said. According to the Legion’s national website, since 1919, American Legion posts have sponsored more than 2,500 Scouting units across the country.

Members pay dues to the organization but find fundraisers are vital to not only support their mission with youth programs but to allow them to maintain their building and support other veterans' causes.

Area veterans have joined to form the Livingston County Veterans Association. In 2018 the group purchased a lot next to the old Walgreens building, where they plan to build a new veterans building, which both the American Legion and VFW will share. Allender said the two groups have always worked very closely and hope to break ground in 2020 on the new building.

Allender said he and most other Legion members carry an application with them at all times and often approach veterans asking them if they are a member. When President Donald Trump signed Senate Bill 504 into law on July 30, 2019, some of the requirements for admission changed. Allender said that currently any service member who served from Dec. 7, 1941, until Congress deems there are no wars or conflicts; and has an honorable discharge can become a member of the American Legion. Allender said anyone interested in joining could reach out to him, Larry Warren, Joe Carter or George Laprade. The American Legion also provides free, assistance -- for any veteran, a member or not -- in filing out benefits claims.

American Legion Post 25 meetings are held with a social gathering at 6:30 p.m. and meeting at 7 p.m., the first Tuesday of each month at the Legion Hall 1404 Washington St.