BERLIN — With Berlin officially recognizing the efforts of two local American Legion Posts, Boggs-Disharoon Post 123 and Duncan-Showell Post 231, the agencies are gearing up for a big open house event this Saturday, from 3-6 p.m.
Organizers hope the event will rekindle a faded spark of interest in the legion, especially in younger veterans.
Currently, Post 123 has about 270 members, most of which are inactive, according to Commander Vince Holloway. However, Holloway explained few members are veterans of more recent wars and admitted that, at 63, he is probably one of the youngest. The average age of a member, he added, is “60 and above.”
“Our ultimate goal is new members,” said member Ray Smith.
To qualify for acceptance in the American Legion, one must serve actively in the military during years that are considered wartime. The most recent qualification period stretches from 1990 to today, and encompasses the United States’ ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. Smith confirmed that the legion is especially interested in attracting veterans from this period. However, he stressed his organization is happy to induct anyone who qualifies, no matter of age.
The open house will include a brief history of the legion, which will play on a loop in the background during the event. Smith encourages prospective members to watch the video to learn about what exactly the legion is and what it represents in the community. However, he stressed there will be no arm twisting during the event and guests only need to be as involved as they would like. Current members and veterans representatives will also be on hand to answer specific questions from individuals.
“Whatever it is, it will be one on one,” said Smith.
Holloway agreed, but expressed a hope that guests will at least develop a general sense of how the legion operates during their visit.
“We want to make people aware we’re not just a place to get a cold drink,” he said.
Holloway pointed out the community service aspects of the legion, and its commitment to veterans and their families. Berlin Mayor Gee Williams acknowledged that service this week when he presented plaques of recognition to Holloway and Post 231 former Commander Kenny Morris.
“We are grateful for your service to our nation and your ongoing commitment to Berlin,” said Williams. “We sincerely trust that your recruitment day will ensure your continued success and service for generations to come.”