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A Look Back: Veterans Day in Springville

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Looking back over the past years and you will find where men and women of all ages fought for what they believed in: the Revolutionary war (1775 – 1782), the War of 1812 (1812- 1815), Mexican War (1846 – 1848), The Civil War (1861 – 1865), Spanish-American War (1898), Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902), World War I (1917 – 1918), World War II (1941 – 1945), Korean War (1950 – 1953), Vietnam War (1964 – 1973), 1st Gulf War (Kuwait and Iraq 1991), Afghanistan (2000 – 2014) and the Iraq War (2003 – 2010). As these men and women come back to the states and home, there have always been groups that would support and be there for them in each time frame.

From the Sons of the American Revolution to Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), VFW to the American Legion, which was formed in 1919, to be there for the returning soldiers and to help them in all ways while providing a place for them to meet and talk to other solders.

Here in Springville, the American Legion was active during the first Armistice Day celebration on November 11, 1919. The name was changed to Veterans Day in 1954 to honor all U.S. Veterans. There was a parade that first year, which had several groups participating, including GAR, sons of Veterans, Women’s Relief Corp and Fountain Hose Company (Fire Department).

Floats, created by the businessmen in town, Griffith Institute and several bands all marched and walked in the parade along with the men that had returned from the war. Dressed in uniform, over 100 men came. A dinner was furnished by the Red Cross and all men in uniform got to enjoy the meal for free.

That first Armistice Day also had an unveiling of a monument that was erected on the lawn of Griffith Institute, to the Springville boys who died in the service. On that bronze tablet contained the following: 1917 — In Memorial —1918, To the boys of Concord who gave their lives in Freedoms cause: Robert H. Bartlett, Casimer Gorski, Albert M. Castle, Robert N. Reynolds, Paul Sobota, Lynn A. Thurber, Roy O. Vail, Myron Wheelock and Cashier Cooksky.

Following this speech and unveiling, there were basketball games, car shows, horse racing events and boxing programs, and in the evening a Military Ball held at the Catholic Hall, where jazz music was played.

As we approach Nov. 11, 2019, we are remembering the 100 years of service that the American Legion has been in town. Originally the post was named for Lynn A. Thurber post, and they were meeting in the soldiers room at the Red Cross building, located at the corner of Main and Mechanic streets — the Carolsel shop now.

A unique feature with these rooms was that every member of the Legion received a key to the rooms from the Springville chapter of the Red Cross for his individual use. After meeting there and in several other rooms around town, the American Legion was offered the use of the GAR log cabin for a meeting place, and in 1949, the GAR Log cabin was deeded, by the Women’s Relief Corp, to the Legion, making it the Legion’s home place.

The first officers for the Legion were as follows: President (Commander) Charles W. Hoagland; 1st Vice, Norton M. Lowe; 2nd Vice, Charles M. Rider; 3rd Vice, Leroy Smith; Secretary (Adjutant) Louis J. Reed; and Treasurer Vernon P. Botsford. The dues that year were $3.

Within the first few weeks, the Lynn A. Thurber Post 431 name was changed unanimously to the Concord American Legion Post 431 and has stayed that way since.  In 1992, land was purchased and, through a lot of volunteering by members, the current Legion Post located on American Legion Drive was built and the first meeting was held in June 1993.

When you walk into the Concord American Legion Post #431, you will see on the walls a map of Andersonville prison and sketch drawing donated by J.P. Myers to the GAR, World War I posters, a military sword in a case and license plates from other Legions, along with names of past and present officers for both the Legion and the Auxiliary.

Remember the Veterans on Nov. 11 for the dedication they gave and are giving while serving our country. You can talk to those who served and hear stories, or just enjoy the company of those there. They are open Noon to 7 p.m., seven days a week, and can be called at 592-5627.

We here at the Lucy Bensley Center have names of all the men who have served from this area since the town was established in 1834. We would love to hear your stories and have that information on our shelves or in our archives. You can stop and visit us on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., or on the second and fourth Sunday from 2-4 p.m., at 23 North Buffalo St. Call us at 592-0094 or send us an email at lucybensleycenter@gmail.com.

On Tuesday evenings, you can listen to some great music at the Concord Mercantile/Heritage Building located at 17 Franklin St., from 7-9 p.m. Be a part of the Concord Historical Society and help to preserve the history of this great town and the families within it!

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