SULLIVAN, Ill. (WCIA) — American Legion Post 68 is about to celebrate a big birthday. The post turns 100 years old this July. They’re planning a celebration to honor veterans and revamp the post’s curb appeal.
Robert Sims joined the post about six years ago. It wasn’t long until he was named commander. Sims served in the Marine Corps for three years in the early 1960s. Now, he spends his free time with people who have similar experiences. It’s a good feeling.
“It’s a nice, friendly atmosphere. You can just come over here and relax and just, enjoy yourself,” says Sims. When they’re not relaxing, they also have some planning to do. The post is getting ready to celebrate its centennial.
“It’s a lot to think about when you think back, or try to imagine, what it would have been like 100 years ago. And you know those fellas that started this, did this right after the end of World War I … You just can’t imagine what they went through to get home and everything they had to do to get this started,” says Sims.
To celebrate 100 years, the post is doing something permanent. They’re selling bricks to create a “Walk of Honor.” It will go near the post’s flagpoles. Those bricks will honor veterans or community members who have given back.
“We obviously haven’t been around for the hundred years, but just to know that those men and women sacrificed and gave their time, and a lot of them their life, to make sure that we were free and that we could continue to celebrate,” says Melanie Byers. Byers is on the planning committee.
The money they raise will pay for the Walk of Honor’s landscaping. The rest will go to the legion itself. Cashflow has been tight for several years, and this post — like many others — has struggled to bring in fresh faces.
“We have tried and tried but we don’t have any luck getting the young guys coming back from service and just … I don’t know if they’re still too young or what, but we just can’t get them to join up,” says Sims.
The post has more than 180 members. Fewer than 30 are active. Sims doesn’t know what the solution is, but he’ll keep trying. At the very least, he can tell potential members this: “It’s kinda like Las Vegas … what happens here, stays here!”
For more information on the project and to order a brick, click here.