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Patriotic purpose

American Legion Post 123 serves many

Created date

June 20th, 2014
American Legion Members stand in front of case
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In the summer of 1956, Peter Straub, a rising high school senior in Missouri, attended Boys State, a participatory program sponsored by the American Legion in which students become part of the operation of local, county, and state government.

“It was a wonderful experience,” says Peter. “Boys State provided me the opportunity to experience living democracy in action.”

Several years later, Peter would put the lessons of service to the test serving in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.

Now, as a community member at Greenspring, an Erickson Living community in Springfield, Va., Peter continues to serve his country through the American Legion, the organization that first introduced him to service. 

He, along with 58 Greenspring community and staff members, make up American Legion Post 123, dedicated to supporting programs designed to benefit the nation’s veterans, its service members, their families, and the youth of America.

Creating a post

Since Greenspring opened in 1998, many veterans living at the community traveled to nearby American Legion Post 176 to participate in American Legion activities. 

Elizabeth “Libby” Haynes, a Greenspring community member and a veteran of the U.S. Air Force’s Cadet Nurse Corp, traveled to Arlington, Va., where she served as Commander of Post 44, “The Unknown Soldier Post.” 

“I was thrilled to find out that Greenspring was forming their own Post,” she says. “At that time I still had duties at Post 44, but I fully supported the creation of Post 123 in every way I knew how.”

On April 29, 2010, Post 123 received their charter as one of 19 posts in the 17th District of the American Legion’s Department of Virginia. Shortly after, upon the completion of her duties at Post 44, Libby joined Post 123 as adjutant, responsible for all the post’s administrative work.

“We were happy to have her on board,” says Peter. “Her knowledge and expertise on all things American Legion has proven very beneficial.”

Getting to work

Shortly after the post’s creation, members began to look for ways to meet the American Legion’s four pillars of service—veterans’ affairs and rehabilitation, national security, Americanism, and children and youth.

“Because our post is located at Greenspring, we are free of major expenses associated with maintaining a ‘post home,’” says Libby. “As a result, our membership dues ($35 a year) can be directed toward worthwhile programs sponsored by the American Legion.” 

Like Peter, a number of Post 123’s membership or family members attended either Boys or Girls State in high school and enjoy extending the opportunity to the students working for Greenspring’s dining services.

 “Our membership feels it is important to support our youth,” says Peter. “It’s our goal to send as many as are interested to Boys State or Girls State each summer. It is one thing to read about democracy and quite another to experience, firsthand, democracy in action. Participants also learn the art of negotiating and what it means to be an American.”

Each year since 2012, Post 123 has sponsored one Greenspring dining services employee to attend Boys State in Lynchburg. 

“This year, we held a meeting for the eligible members of the dining services staff, and only girls applied,” says Libby. “We are happy to say that we were able to send three girls to Girls State, held last month in Farmville, Va.”

This month, the three lucky ladies will address the members of Post 123 at their monthly meeting, sharing the details of their once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Serving those who served

In addition to reaching out to the youth at Greenspring, members of Post 123 put a priority on serving each other and the many other veterans living at the community. Meeting monthly on the third Tuesday of the month, members discuss upcoming events such as serving as the Honor Guard flag detail for the Veteran’s Day service and the annual West Point Alumni Glee Club concert.

Post 123 also offers the service of honorable retirement for worn out, torn, or faded American flags. Each flag is laid to rest with a dignified ceremony.

Recently, Post 123 members began visiting veterans at Garden Ridge, Greenspring’s continuing care community.  

“On a monthly basis, a member of the post visits the veterans at Garden Ridge to provide camaraderie to our fellow servicemen and women,” says Peter. “The discussions usually start with the question, ‘Where did you serve?’ It’s amazing how that one question, when asked by a fellow veteran, brings a person out of their shell. It’s proof of the strong bond that exists between us.”  

Service on display

Another new activity for Post 123 is the maintenance and display of the trophy case in the Hunters Crossing Clubhouse. 

All members of the Greenspring community are invited to provide awards, certificates, trophies, and honors received for display in this centralized location. 

“Our post began receiving awards, and we had no place to put them,” says Peter, who personally manages the display. “I asked if our post could take over the management of the trophy case, opening it to all residents and staff. As with everything the Legion does at Greenspring, we were met with wholehearted support.”

“We enjoy the opportunity to display the accomplishment of our neighbors,” says Libby. “The contents change periodically as we receive new awards.” 

Looking forward

In the upcoming months, the members of Post 123 will continue to serve their neighbors, the youth, and each other. In November, members will honor our nation’s fallen veterans at various local ceremonies.

Others will join Legionnaires across the Washington, D.C., area at the Wreaths Across America activity during the holidays. Members will lay fresh spruce wreaths with big red bows on every headstone in Arlington National Cemetery and other military cemeteries across the country in recognition of the Christmas holiday.

Looking forward to 2015, members hope to further their support of youth by participating in the American Legion’s Oratorical Contest for high school students. 

“The opportunities to serve are numerous,” says Libby. “As a member of the American Legion, we are free to take part in any and all activities. I hope we will continue to attract more Greenspring veterans to our post.”

“We share a unique bond,” says Peter. “Post 123 provides a wonderful opportunity to get together.”

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