Marking Time

American Legion to celebrate
its 100th birthday in April

‘Remember Me Monday’ band to play at event

(April 2019) – “Veterans still serving America,” is the theme for the 100-year celebration of the American Legion in the United States. In Madison, Ind., the American Legion was chartered as Jefferson Post 9 on June 20, 1919. The permanent charter followed on Nov. 29, 1920. Last year, the Jefferson Post 9 filed a petition to officially change the name of the Post to Maj. Sam Woodfill Post 9. The new name honors Woodfill, a local World War I hero. Gen. John J. Pershing described Woodfill as “the greatest soldier of World War I.”

Photo by Sharyn Whitman

From left, treasurer LaVerne Adams and president Regina Copeland pose at the American Legion Post 9 below a photo of Maj. Sam Woodfill.

The Maj. Sam Woodfill Post 9 is playing host to a Centennial Birthday Party for the entire greater Madison community on Saturday, April 13, at the American Legion, 707 Jefferson St. Regina (Gina) Copeland, local Auxiliary President and LaVerne Adams, Auxiliary Treasurer, have spearheaded the centennial celebration. The result is a big party starting with dinner at 5:30 p.m., band and dancing at 7 p.m., in the smoke-free hall. There will also be door prizes and give-aways. Tickets for dinner and the band are available at the Legion Bar for $20 in advance or at the door. Price for couples is $35. 
“Remember Me Monday,” billed as the tri-state’s premier cover band, brings high energy and enthusiasm to the Centennial Birthday Party with a variety of popular and danceable music. Their repertoire includes top 40, modern, southern, classic rock, R&B and country. Brandon Griffith, 42, his older brother Travis, and friend, Tim Deckert, formed the original band in 2015. Brandon said they had been “playing music their whole lives.” But in spring 2018, Travis lost his battle with cancer, and the band just shut down. By November, Brandon and Deckert decided to retool the band and the sound. New additions to the band include Michael Kruse and Deckert’s wife, Holly. The new band now features Michael Kruse, lead guitar and vocals; Holly Deckert, vocals; Tim Deckert, bass and vocals and Brandon Griffith, drums and lead vocals. The guitar that Travis always played is always set up on stage with a small light as a continued tribute.
“We love playing at the American Legion in Madison,” Brandon said. “They enjoy the music. They love to dance and sing – that’s what it’s all about. Kruse has brought a dynamic quality and professionalism to the band. Holly has also been an awesome addition, bringing a new repertoire and new energy.”
Brandon is a rare drummer who also performs the lead vocal role. He said people are always amazed to see a drummer sing. 
Post 9 Cmdr. F. Michael Hunt invites everyone in the community to enjoy this event at the Legion. Hunt’s wife, Roxanna (Roxy), noted, “People think the Legion is just a place to smoke and drink beer. This organization is so much more.”
She continued, “The members who congregate daily at the Legion can do pull-tabs, play bingo and poker. They also participate in raffles. This is how we raise money. It all goes back to the community in the form of grants and scholarships.”
Brenda Brittain, Past-President of the Auxiliary added, “We are always willing to help those in need. We have helped with utility bills, medical supplies, wheel chairs and hospital beds. Each year two scholarships are given to each local high school.”
At the kickoff event for this April Centennial Birthday Party, several speakers thanked the American Legion members for their generous support and contributions. Matt True, Madison Regatta President, expressed his appreciation for the Legion’s sponsorship for the fireworks that are a special feature at the annual Madison Regatta in July.
Lt. Vinal Lee of the Madison chapter of the Salvation Army, said, “The American Legion has provided 100 blankets for the winter overnight shelter at the Salvation Army since 2017.”
Alan Burnham, superintendent of the Indiana Veterans Memorial Cemetery, spoke of the gratitude of families when the Honor Guard performs at a veteran’s funeral. These are just a few of the many services and contributions provided by the Woodfill Post 9.
Veterans do share their stories at the Legion. Alva “Alvy” Duncan said he joined the Army in August 1948. It was just a year after his dad had died. He sent his pay, $35 a month, home to his mother each month to help support her and his siblings. He served during the Korean War in Roswell, N.M.
Tony Grubb explained why he joined the military. “I came from a large family of 14 children. When I finished school, I was expected to move out and support myself. In the military, you had food and housing. You could learn a skill or a trade, so I joined the Army.” Grubb now serves as the volunteer captain of the Honor Guard. He noted that the Honor Guard had served at 152 funerals last year. 
The American Legion was chartered by Congress in September 1919 to meet the needs of returning World War I veterans. Those returning soldiers were not ready slip back into their prior roles in local communities after experiencing the horrors of war. They went to war as idealistic boys and returned as war-weary men.
The American Expe-ditionary Forces (A.E.F.) in France were searching for ways to improve troop morale. Lt. Col. Teddy Roosevelt Jr. was one of the World War I officers who envisioned the need for an association of veterans of that Great War. Each soldier in the A.E.F. was considered an automatic member of the newly formed American Legion.
The new organization set up offices in New York City and began relief and employment programs for veterans. At the same time, the women who had held their families together and worked during the war, joined in support of the new organization. They organized local chapters, found facilities and raised support for the men returning home. The American Legion Auxiliary is the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization. The American Legion is now the largest veterans service organization in the United States.
David “Tank” Sherman started as a member of the Sons of the American Legion because his grandfather served in the Spanish American War. Sherman is a Navy veteran who served on the U.S.S. Grand Canyon during the Vietnam War.
“Many younger vets today think that the American Legion is just for old vets to tell war stories,” he said. “It is that, but the American Legion is so much more.”
Sherman encouraged veterans of all ages to join the American Legion. The pride of military service lives on in service to local communities. Veterans find that service with fellow veterans builds on that kindred spirit of military service, and so much more.

• For more information about the celebration event, call the American Legion Post 9 at (812) 265-4417.

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