On Monday evening, March 11, at a regular meeting, the town council honored the American Legion with a proclamation stating the longevity and service of the American Legion since March of 1919. The American Legion was formed on March 15, 1919, and was chartered in September of the same year. The proclamation was read by Councilor Sharon Ahern:
“In recognition of the 100th anniversary of its founding on March 15, 1919, when members of the expeditionary force convened in Paris for the first American Legion caucus and, on September 16, 1919, the American Legion was chartered by the United States Congress.
“The legion, which evolved from a group of war-weary veterans of World War I, focuses on service to veterans, service members and communities, and over the years has influenced considerably social change in America, won hundreds of benefits for veterans, produced many important programs for children and youth, and sponsored legislation on behalf of veterans.
“However, its most single and greatest legislative achievement was the GI Bill of Rights, which was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 22, 1944.
“The Westerly Town Council pays tribute to the American Legion and its continuing events on behalf of veterans and their families.”
After the reading of the proclamation, the members of the H.W. Merrill Post #16 in attendance — Commander Melvin Jolly, Adjutant Brian Benoit, Finance Officer Ray Blanda, Chaplain Ken Burton Sr., and Legionnaire Robert Montalbano — were recognized. They were then congratulated by the town council members and council committee members.
It was a good evening for the American Legion to be awarded such a proclamation by the Town of Westerly. The American Legion, along with other veterans organizations, stands fast to do its duty in providing health and care benefits to all veterans and to also provide assistance for various programs throughout the community.
It is our hope that all men and women who have served in the military and are no longer serving in uniform step forward and join such organizations as the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and their auxiliaries.
Strength is in the number of all that belong to these organizations. It is important to be able to lobby for the rights earned by all our veterans. They deserve nothing less for the sacrifices few have made for the many to enjoy freedoms of today and tomorrow, both in Washington, D.C. and each state.
The H.W. Merrill Post #16 graciously and honorably accepted this proclamation on behalf of the American Legion. It is with honor and integrity for the Legion to serve its comrade veterans, the community, and the United States of America.
God bless the United States of America, and God bless all our men and women in uniform throughout the world who are serving to protect our liberties and freedoms. Bless also police officers first responders, and all who perform services that provide health and well-being for our citizens.
Commander Melvin Jolly
1st Vice Commandant Jamie Brown
2nd Vice Comm. Vincent Nowakowski
Adjutant Brian Benoit
Finance Officer Ray Blanda
Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Siano
Chaplain Ken Burton Sr.
The writers are the officers of the H.W. Merrill Post #16 of the American Legion.