The oldest chartered veterans organization in Grand County, American Legion Post 88, has seen its ups and downs since 1931. But in the past year, the post has nearly tripled the amount of active members thanks to reorganization and renewed enthusiasm.
Originally chartered in Hot Sulphur Springs, Post 88 has grown so much in the past year the American Legion Department of Colorado recently recognized the post as the most successful in the small membership division. It is presently the only active post in the county, according to Duane Dailey of the Grand County Veterans Office.
The post operated in Hot Sulphur Springs until 1948, when it moved to Granby to operate out of the Legion Hut, which was located at the southwest corner of 4th and Topaz. The Post 88 property was sold in 2007, and its members had since been meeting in individual’s homes and various meeting rooms throughout the county.
More recently the Post’s members have been meeting regularly and most often in the Tap House at Soda Springs Ranch along Highway 34.
Post 88 slipped into dormancy after the sale of the legion hut, though sprang back to life in June 2012 when its members reorganized the post and brought in new members. The post now has 34 active members.
Many are accustomed to seeing veterans marching in parades, flying the American flag and donning decorated uniforms, and indeed the Fourth of July parade in Granby will feature local wartime heroes flying the flag and riding everything from horses to motorcycles to wheelchairs.
The American Legion is the largest and most influential network of United States wartime veterans, families, and communities with more than 2.5 million members and 14,000 community posts, though marching in parades is just the tip of the iceberg for American Legion members.
The four pillars of the American Legion are veteran’s affairs and rehabilitation, national security, Americanism, and children and youth.
The American Legion is made up of “veterans helping out other veterans,” said Anthony Duddleson, the commander of Post 88.
Post 88’s active members in the past year have participated in numerous honor guards, or last rights to veterans who have died, complete with a memorial service to honor the service and sacrifice the men have given to their country, the playing of Taps, and a 21-Gun Salute.
The Post recently received help from the local Boy Scouts in selling memorial poppies during the Memorial Day parade in Grand Lake. All proceeds from the poppy sale were donated to the scout troop.
Memorial poppies are sold in remembrance of the sacrifices soldiers have made for their country. The association of poppies with Memorial Day spawns from a poem written during World War I by a Canadian physician, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, titled “In Flanders Fields.”
The poem was written from the point of view of the dead soldiers in a field of poppies and spoke of their sacrifice and served as their command to the living to press on.
One of the more rewarding accomplishments of the post, which worked in conjunction with Post 44 out of Steamboat Springs, was the recent acquisition of a Ford van for a local veteran Mike Smith. The van, complete with a state of the art wheelchair lift and wheelchair accessibility features, has allowed Smith to become more mobile and active.
The post welcomes all local veterans to march in parades with them and had nearly 100 veterans participate in the Memorial Day parade in Grand Lake.
“Grand County has a lot of veterans that aren’t really recognized,” Duddleson said. “We want to recognize all of the vets in the county for their service and sacrifice.
“If we can get some more members, I think that would allow us to be more active in the community,” he said. “The Legion is veterans helping veterans, but we also want to help the community and set a good example.”
For more information about Post 88 or to join, you can call Duddleson at 970-531-8669, or email the post at email@example.com.
Reid Tulley can be reached at 970-887-3334