American Legion, COL. ELMER J. WALLACE POST NO. 17 — 1924
Fort Monroe, Virginia
Colonel Elmer J. Wallace Post No. 17, American Legion, Department of Virginia, is one of the few Posts of the Legion which are situated on an Army Post. In June, 1918, a number of World War Veterans, anxious to preserve the memories incident to their service in the great war, held a meeting at Fort Monroe, with the idea of forming an organization of some kind which would more closely bind them together. The outgrowth of this meeting .was a Post of the American Legion, and in honor of the first officer of the Army coming from Fort Monroe to fall on the field of honor, the Post was named Colonel Elmer J. Wallace. Upon the granting of the charter, the number 17 was assigned, and by this name and number the Post has continued to be known.
Colonel Wallace Post is rather peculiarly situated, in that being on an Army Post, their opportunities for community service have been limited. However, no opportunity has been lost to co-operate with the military authorities in any undertaking in which their services could be utilized. Thus, they have exerted every effort to assist in various enterprises for the raising of relief funds of various kinds, in the memorial exercises for the late Presidents Roosevelt and Harding, and in the reception of distinguished visitors wherever they could with propriety do so, or where their services were requested.
Shortly after its organization, this Post found its one great opportunity in the work in connection with the World War Veterans who are patients in the Southern Branch, National Soldiers’ Home, which is situated a few miles from Fort Monroe. One of the first works undertaken was the cooperation with the Home authorities in the preparation of Compensation Claim applications. For several months, the War Risk Officer of the Post gave almost his entire time to this work, and a great deal was accomplished for the welfare of the. members of the Home through his efforts.
A large number of the patients at the Soldiers’ Home are non-compensable cases, and it is to these patients that Colonel Wallace Post has given a great deal of attention. With the co-operation of the Auxiliary, frequent visits have been made, taking dainties and minor necessities to these comrades, writing letters; and ministering to their wants, in so far as the finances of the Post and the time at the disposal of the members would permit. Automobile rides, theatre parties and other recreational activities have all claimed the attention of the Post from time to time.
In addition to the work which this Post has been able to do individually, they are members of the Central Relief Committee, composed of the four Posts and four units on the Virginia Peninsula. This committee, through contributions from the member Posts and units, and from the State Unit Headquarters, endeavors to furnish certain things for the welfare of the veterans which no Post individually could hope to do, both from financial and other reasons. Through this committee, the veterans have been able to enjoy Christmas parties, with candy, smokes and small gifts for each one; a recreation room, fitted with writing materials, curtains at the windows, games, etc.; as well as razors, razor blades, stamps and many other necessities not supplied by the Home.
In this connection, it might be said that the Governor and other officers of the Southern Branch, National Soldiers’ Home, have extended to this Post and to the Central Committee every courtesy, and that the work is conducted in entire harmony and in conformity with the wishes of the Home authorities.
Memorial Day has not been neglected. On each recurring year, the Post has turned out in a body, and assisted in the decoration of the more than fifteen thousand graves of veterans of all wars which are interred in the two National cemeteries near here. Especial attention has been given to the last resting places of World War veterans in these cemeteries. On each “little green tent” which rises over the grave of a Buddy there is placed a poppy, which, with the flag for which they gave the “last full measure of devotion,” marks their bivouac of eternity.
Armistice Day also has claimed the attention of the Post, and on each anniversary has been made the subject of a gathering of Buddies and appropriate exercises.
Colonel Wallace Post is fortunate in that, through the courtesy of the Commanding Officer of Fort Monroe, they have been assigned one of the casemates as a meeting place and club room. This casemate is a series of rooms which are built into the heavy masonry which forms the outer wall of the portion of this reservation which originally comprised the Fort proper. Completely fitted with electric lights, coal range, a complete equipment of cooking utensils, plates, cups, knives and forks, it provides a comfortable meeting place for both the unit and the Post.
An attractive bulletin board has been erected at the main entrance to the old fort, where timely bulletins are posted for the information of the members and the personnel of the fort as a whole.
Due to, the fact that all applications for compensation for men in the service are being filed through military channels, the opportunity in this work at Fort Monroe is extremely limited. Members of the Post, however, have co-operated with the members of the Hampton (Virginia) Post in making out applications for members of the Soldiers’ Home, and others, to such extent that at this writing (July 14th) the Post has well over two hundred applications, completed and fingerprinted, to its credit.
Colonel Wallace Post has never been a large Post, as Posts go, their situation precludes that. But they do feel that they have always enjoyed the membership of a majority of the comrades of Fort Monroe who feel that there is still work to do for their less fortunate Buddies of the Great War. As eligibles leave the service for civil life, are transferred to other Posts in the service, or are harvested by the Grim Reaper, Colonel Wallace Post will decline in membership, until some time in the not far distant future, it will be mustered into the limbo of forgotten things, but until that time, the membership is resolved that the record of accomplishment of those who have so far so loyally carried on the work of the Post will not suffer in comparison with achievements of the future, and that, so long as Colonel Wallace Post remains in existence, they shall most loyally stand by that clause of the Preamble to the Constitution which pledges us to “consecrate and sanctify our comradeship by our devotion to mutual helpfulness.”