Last Saturday, Clatsop Post 12 American Legion celebrated its 90th birthday with a special program that included Astoria Mayor Willis Van Dusen, state Rep. Brad Witt, Capt. Peter Troedsson of U.S Coast Guard Air Station Astoria, Lt. Col. Dean Perez of the U.S. Army, Lt. Col. Ron Kinsley of the Oregon National Guard, Irv Fletcher of the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs, Don Yeamans, USS Astoria survivor, Bill Thomas, Pearl Harbor survivor, and many others. It was also Post 12 Auxiliary's 89th birthday.
Gold Star Father Gordon Treber sang the song "American Soldier" before the Prisoners of War/Missing In Action ceremony, and lit the U.S. Army candle during the ceremony. A POW/MIA table was featured at the celebration. Every item on the table had significance, representing each branch of the service and the U.S. Merchant Marine. There were also several historical displays at the event.
State Sen. Betsy Johnson was not able to attend, but she made a donation of $500 to the Oregon Veterans Home in honor of the post's birthday.
Van Dusen presented Mike Phillips, commander of the post, with a proclamation declaring March 2009 as American Legion and Clatsop Post 12 Month in recognition of the contributions made by the members of the American Legion.
Members of the American Expeditionary Force founded the American Legion in Paris March 15-17, 1919, and the U.S. Congress chartered it that same year. The initial formation of Clatsop Post 12 was in March 1919, with 38 combat veterans from Clatsop County. The post was officially chartered July 28, 1919. During the 1922 Astoria fire, Clatsop Post 12 was at the forefront, providing assistance until the American Red Cross and other help could come in from outside the area.
The Oregon State Legislature honored the American Legion Wednesday by adopting HJR 10, a resolution declaring March as American Legion Month throughout Oregon. Rep. Gene Whisnant, R-Bend, and Sen. Brian Boquist, R-Dallas, both veterans and members of the American Legion, carried the legislation.
"The members of the American Legion represent the best qualities of our nation: courage, loyalty and self-sacrifice," said Boquist. "These men and women have safeguarded our nation in its darkest hours, and they deserve every honor."
HJR 10 calls upon all citizens to express their appreciation for the work accomplished by the more than 25,000 Legionnaires across the state. Today, there are nearly three million American Legion members nationwide, representing veterans who served in every branch of the military.
The American Legion has a number of national programs that help active military members, returning veterans and those who served our nation years ago. The Legion was responsible for the creation of the original GI Bill that enabled millions of vets to obtain assistance in education and home loans, and it was instrumental in the passage of legislation creating the Department of Veteran Affairs. Keynote programs such as Boys State, American Legion Baseball and Oratorical also promote the development of leadership skills among youth.
"The strength of the American Legion lies at the local level, and the 120 posts located across our state are dedicated to doing their part in assisting veterans, their families and our communities alike," said John Kalmbach, American Legion Department of Oregon vice commander.