On Sept. 23 and 24 the American Legion Post 269 celebrated its 80th birthday. The festivities were aligned to be in concurrence with Meridian Township’s 175th Anniversary.
Although the turnout was less than organizers expected, due to the record-breaking high temperatures over the weekend, residents still ventured from surrounding areas to join in on the festivities.
“The folks that have come I think really enjoyed themselves,” said John Meka, American Legion post commander. “They were very appreciative of what the Legion does for the community and I think they had a really good time.”
The festivities spanned across two days and included games from bowling to Jenga, food trucks, a dog contest, a car and bike show, and a corn hole tournament. Included with the food vendors was Meat BBQ — a popular Lansing restaurant that was recently featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.”
Ninety percent of the proceeds from the weekend will be donated to the family of a young veteran, Brett Telder, who passed away earlier this year after suffering from a stroke. The money will be donated to a college fund supporting his two youngest children.
Since 1937, the American Legion has been dedicated to aiding Veterans and their families.
“We are celebrating 80 years of taking care of, not just our vets, but also the people in our community,” said Sharie Maurer, Auxiliary member and coordinator of the 80th birthday celebration. “We are here for our community, we are here for fundraising and we are here to help out our vets, past and present.”
Maurer admits that the event would not have been possible without the numerous volunteers who worked around the clock to put the event together.
“The 80th was not just celebrating our vets, and 80 years being here, but about letting everybody know what we really stand for, what we really do and what a great extended family it really is,” said Maurer.
While preparing for the event a lot of older members joined in on the conversation.
“I got to hear their stories on what this post meant to them over the years,” said Bob Derrick, president of the American Legion Riders. “What they used to do here, the positions they held, how things are so much changed from when they were here.”
Derrick remarked that it was nice to interact more with the older generation and to get to know them better than he otherwise would have.
“Listening to the pride they had, the good feelings that they remembered from all of this, made it a really fun event to put on,” said Derrick.
While the turnout was mostly veterans and their families, the Post also gained new members.
“As a vet, and as a member of this post for the last almost 20 years, it’s one of the best things we’ve ever done,” said Darryl Smith, a veteran, legionnaire and historian for the squadron. “Preserving the integrity and the history of this place is paramount in my mind and for us to acknowledge 80 years in existence is monumental.”