Editor’s note: This is one story in a series about local businesses in the City of Fairborn. This feature puts a face to the names of those that have been part of the community for many years – some of those best-kept secrets.
FAIRBORN – The American Legion was formed in 1919 after World War I. The local post was established 1923 in the Fairfield Osborn Bath Township.
It was considered a Georgie Dignam Post, who lost his life in World War I. That post continued until after World War II, when they added Robert Whitmore who was killed in the Battle of the Bulge. When the town consolidated, so did the post. It was then called Dignam Whitmore Post 526, where it remains now at its current location since the 1950s and just celebrated its 94 birthday in Fairborn.
To belong to the American Legion, individuals must have served in the military during war time. Members are veterans who were on active duty during a conflict. They can present proof by showing a copy of their retired ID card or 214 document. However, they additionally permit children from birth to age 18 if their parents or grandparents show they are related and are associated with the military.
There is an Auxiliary for the women, which is made up of ladies related to armed forces men and women of the United States determined by the government. The Ladies Auxiliary membership currently stands at about 274 individuals.
“Auxiliary makes and sells homemade candies in the fall to support their scholarship and anyone wanting to buy candy can see or talk to me,” Auxilary President Cuca Bowen said. “The Ladies Auxiliary goes to the VA Christmas morning, and many nursing homes different times of year for the elderly who looks forward to their visits. We go to nursing homes, and help out in the community. Our bake sales and fundraisers go into the Honor Flight for vets to be able to attend Washington.”
Legion officials feel that the membership is low due to some older veterans passing away, and younger veterans not knowing what they have to offer or being too busy with outside activities to join the American Legion, not realizing what events and programs which are current with their generation.
“They need to stop in, talk to us and see what we have to offer and how we can assist them,” Comamander Chuck Knaub said. “Once you’re a member, you belong to all American Legions no matter where you live. Fairborn’s Legion sends a newsletter of what is going on and how you can use the programs they offer, and how they can help assist the service person and their family. If you need help with claims or benefits, the American Legion can assist you with your paperwork needed to be sent in to proper authorities.”
Its primary focus is service and advocating the veterans of our country who have served in the military. This is done from post level to national level. Members have a place to gather, a home and someone to represent you. The four pillars of the American Legion are: rehabilitations care for veterans, children youth, Americanism and national security. American Legion is the largest veteran administration in the country, and besides the four pillars they support the community.
Members help out color guard, military honors in funeral services, and are asked to support special military holidays and parades. Members take three pick-up trucks full of flags for ceremonies to be put to rest each year with the VFW. They support and work with the ROTC of Fairborn High School and Wright State Univeristy with awards too.
“We are a 501.C13, which means anyone wanting to donate to them is a tax deduction and we need and welcome the support,” Knaub said.
Knaub implements various programs for the community, such as dinners, lunches, trivia nights, karaoke events and things for kids, and are open to the public and offer reasonable prices.
“We have Christmas parties for the members and on Veterans Day, we still serve the traditional cornbread and soup beans,” he said.
They organize veteran days and conduct cemetery events, providing flags and allowing the kids help place flags on the graves. The Zombie Parade starts from and, the Mayor Forums are held at the post; following the 4th July Parade, the post is open for parade goers to cool down and take bathroom breaks.
“If it’s truly a community event we are and have been supportive,” Knaub said. “We help the community and support veterans, and now we need help financially keep the Post 526 from being closed. The Barbarians are still at the gate.”
The Legion offers facilities to rent for banquets, conferences, weddings and parties – and these spaces are not limited to members, although discounts are offered for those who are members. They can provide catering, food, decorations and service for any event and should individuals need help or assistance, they are there for you. Knaub said call the event coordinator for information, as they can accommodate 280 people. Businesses don’t have to be a member to run ads in its newsletters to help support the post.
“The base used to have a place where kids could jam with their instruments, it’s no longer available but the Legion Post would like to encourage and start up Jam night for kids with family and friends showing their talents,” Knaub said. “We want to work with the base on this project as it would be a positive event for families. We welcome them to come talk to us. We will provide the electric, they just need to provide instruments and talent.”
The Auxiliary wants people to know they are there and want to open its doors to members for support. They can be reached at LegionPost526@yahoo.com if anyone has any questions regarding help, support or membership.
“We do lots of things for people and the community, but we need more members and lots of enthusiasm to help us to keep helping others,” Knaub said.