Hoopeston, Ill. (WCIA).
One century ago, World War I Veterans Charles Dyer and Clarence Miller submitted an application.
The United States Congress had just chartered the American Legion and Dyer and Miller wanted to create their own post in Our Town Hoopeston.
In the late summer of 1920, over 30 veterans gathered to form Legion Post 384.
They named it after Ira Owen Kreager, the first Hoopeston native to die in WWI.
Chaplain Steve Unger says the following decades saw exponential growth in membership.
“The membership grew to over 600 members after WWII. That was the heyday of the American Legion here in town,” Unger says. “And now I think we’re a little over 100 members.”
Today Legion Post 384 is made up of Vermilion County veterans who served and were honorably discharged.
Unger says the mission of the organization remains the same:
“We stand up for the interest of our veterans. We support VA hospitals with gifts throughout the year and we promote Americanism.”
But serving the community can look like a lot of things. For one, it can mean providing a space for
wedding receptions, birthdays, and family gatherings, all of which take place at the post. In addition, the organization attends parades, festivals, and sporting events.
“It makes you proud, particularly when you’re in a parade and people stand and clap as you go by. It makes you proud of the contributation that you’ve made to this great country of ours,” says Unger.
But Unger says the greatest privilege is the presence of the Honor Guard at military funerals.
“We fire a volley, and play taps, and then we present [the flag] that the departed has served under so proudly. And it’s presented to them by a most gracious and thankful nation.”