The Baldwin American Legion Post #246 celebrated its 100th anniversary at its Centennial Gala on Sept. 13. Dozens of people came to the post, located at 2754 Grand Ave., to celebrate and reflect on the birth of the local chapter.
The American Legion was founded in March of 1919 in Paris, France by U.S. World War I military personnel stationed there who dedicated themselves to their service. The Baldwin post, which was established on Aug. 12, 1919, became chartered by the United States Congress a month later.
“Those posts that we recognize at this time of year, in August and September, are actually chartered posts of the entire national American Legion,” said Commander Bob Hare to a room of dozens. “We’re very proud of that.”
There are about 13,000 local posts of the Legion around the world, Hare added. It’s the largest veterans organization that exists today. Nassau County American Legion Commander Al Ficalora, of Baldwin, said that 16 of the 52 posts in Nassau County have existed for 100 years, including those in Baldwin, Freeport, Hempstead, Rockville Centre, Lynbrook and Valley Stream.
“We here in Baldwin, we here on Long Island, we here in America, stand on your shoulders — because you put the uniform on and put yourself in harm’s way, we get to live in the greatest country on earth,” State Sen. Todd Kaminsky said, before presenting a proclamation with State Sen. John Brooks, who serves as the chairman of the New York State Senate’s Committee on Veterans. “Far too often, when people come home, they don’t get the recognition that they deserve, the treatment they deserve or the service they deserve. We’re trying very hard to do our best to push back on that.”
“When you look back 100 years ago,” Brooks said, “the vision that those that got together to organize this organization recognizing that those who’ve served were going to have needs to find ways to address those, the foresight was incredible to understand.”
Also in attendance was County Executive Laura Curran, Town Supervisor Laura Gillen, County Legislator Debra Mulé and Assemblywoman Judy Griffin.
“As a Baldwinite, I have to say, I am so grateful for what you at the post do for our community,” Curran said. “I want to thank the ladies on the auxiliary ... and the guys in this post who have become personal friends who I’ve gotten to know over the years. I’m grateful for your friendship, I’m grateful for your service.”
“I’m happy to be here to say happy birthday!” Gillen, a Baldwin native, said. “Baldwin’s a wonderful place, and this post has been a wonderful part of the community. … Thank you for all that you do to try to help our veterans.”