American Legion, DANVILLE POST NO. 10

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American Legion, DANVILLE POST NO. 10 - 1924

Danville, Virginia

In all the land no American Legion Post had a more patriotic background for its organization efforts than that of Danville, Va. Favored above most American cities by being located in a section where the Anglo-Saxon strain is purest, its populace contains practically no aliens. Such citizens of foreign birth as are located here are naturalized almost without exception. As a consequence of this condition a patriotic fervor pervaded Danville almost from the day war was declared on Germany-in fact, it is recorded that on that very day certain youthful citizens voluntarily entered the military service, and in the immediately following weeks, scores hastened to affiliate with local National Guard units, of which there were three with total enlistments of 424. Enthusiasm was not limited to those of military age, or the stronger sex. The whole town responded. Its allotment of the First Liberty Loan was oversubscribed by thousands of dollars, and in the drive that followed Danville never failed of its quota.

Hundreds of young men of the city and countryside responded readily and willingly to selective service when their names were called, and we assert that few cities of the country can show a larger number of men furnished the armed forces than Danville, in proportion to population. Conspicuous service was rendered by the Danville military units in the fighting areas of St. Mihiel, the Meuse-Argonne, Malbrouck Hill and Etraye Ridge, while scattered through various divisions of the expeditionary forces, hundreds of other Danville men bore the scourge of war on all the fronts of battle.

In June, 1919, when most of those in service had returned, a great home-coming celebration was held, in which the people of Danville were hosts, and honor was done its heroes. About this time the call came for the formation of local American Legion .Posts, and met a ready response among the lads, struggling to gain a foothold in peace-time pursuits, yet desiring to preserve the memories and incidents of their association in the Great War. The Danville Post was formed at a meeting held in the Municipal Building in June, 1919, with fifty present. Officers were elected and a charter applied for. This was followed by an active campaign for members and the roster increased rapidly until the end of the year 1919 showed 244 on the roll. The officers who have served from its organization to the date of this writing are as follows:

1919-A. K. Raine (two months), commander; G. P. Geoghegan, Jr., adjutant.
1919-A. M. Aiken, commander; G. P. Geoghegan, Jr., adjutant.
1920-H. A. Wiseman, commander; Geo. S. Ramey, adjutant.
1921-H. T. Williams, commander; A. R. Gravely, adjutant.
1922-J. M. Robinson (two months), commander; F. W. Townes, Jr., adjutant.
1922-G. W. Johnson, commander; H. T. Williams, adjutant.
1923-W. H. Cousins, commander; J. Landon Robertson, adjutant.
1924-W. H. Cousins, commander; Thos. A. Fox, Jr., adjutant.

The fluctuation in the membership of the Post furnishes an interesting study, reflecting the struggles of the organization to find its bearings and determine its field of usefulness. The annual paid-up memberships have been as follows:

1919: 244
1920: 109
1921: 57
1922: 29
1923: 213
1924: 380 (6 mos)

During the life of the Post a number of activities have been undertaken and carried through, among which attention will be first called to the fact that the body of every man who died in service was given a military burial upon its return, and flowers sent by the Post rested on his casket during the funeral services. During periods of depression, especially the winter of 1921-1922, much relief work was done, and many men in town "down but not out" were sent to their homes, or employment found for them. Only the officers of the Legion have any idea of the number of calls made upon the Post by men temporarily without means. The treasury was drained of all funds. The membership fees are small, and in order to care for this type of work the Post arranged a carnival, and later a comedy in the form of a "Womanless Wedding," from both of which goodly sums were realized, and later expended in caring for our unfortunate comrades.

Our Post adjutants and service officers have handled a large number of claims of veterans, and have been instrumental in securing disability compensation, vocational training, reinstatement of government insurance, and other adjustments for ex-service men. Insurance claims have been handled for widows and dependents of those who died, or were killed in service, and this phase of work alone would justify the Legion's existence in Danville. The Post has held monthly meetings which are well attended, and often featured by addresses by prominent speakers on subjects of interest and importance to Legionnaires. Boxing, wrestling and athletics have been encouraged, and many good bouts witnessed at Post meetings.

In 1923 there was held in Danville the fifth district of Virginia convention of the American Legion, represented by Posts holding membership in this district, at which the State Commander, Col. E. E. Goodwyn, was present. This convention went on record favoring Danville for the 1924 State Convention. The local Post followed this up by sending a very strong delegation to the 1923 Fredericksburg convention, with representatives of the Chamber of Commerce and other civic clubs, who presented such forceful argument, that the 1924 convention was awarded to Danville, and at the time of this writing the local Post is making active preparations for the accommodation of the gathering, and its entertainment. One of the speakers will be General John J. Pershing. Another Dr. Kate Waller Barrett, past President of the National American Legion Auxiliary.

Danville has one of the most impressive memorials to its dead in the Great War to be found anywhere. Beautiful Mount Vernon and Virginia Avenues were selected as the sites for planting a living tree to the memory of each soldier, these trees being placed in the parkway extending the length of the street, and each one being permanently identified with a bronze marker bearing the name of the veteran. This tribute was provided by the Kiwanis Club. Other civic organizations and the Chamber of Commerce of Danville have always shown a sympathetic interest in the American Legion Post, and relations have been of a cordial nature.

The Post Commander has outlined a program of work ahead of the Danville Post and states that he will undertake to get the Post started on some of the activities and recommend other activities for his successor in command. Among these he named the continued assistance of the veterans in every way possible, citing the present work of aiding from thirty to sixty service men daily in making out their adjusted compensation claims, and the. solid backing the Post is giving in efforts to see that men with just claims for disability receive their due. The Post will continue its activity in fostering patriotism and will undertake to see that important national holidays are fittingly celebrated so that there will never again be hyphenated-Americans. And the big thing which will go over into another year's activity will be the launching of a movement to secure permanent quarters for the Past, including perhaps facilities for a public library. At present the Post is using quarters in the Confederate Memorial Mansion kindly placed at its disposal by the city council.

But the big thing before Danville Post at present is putting over the 1924 State Convention, and with the assistance of its newly formed auxiliary, the Chamber of Commerce and other local organizations, it expects to give the delegates attending the 1924 convention a "maximum of entertainment for a minimum of expense to the delegates."