John Fredrickson, historian for Kent’s American Legion Post 15, left, and Post Commander Don Whittington, display the Post’s original 1919 chartering document outside Kent Memorial Hall. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

John Fredrickson, historian for Kent’s American Legion Post 15, left, and Post Commander Don Whittington, display the Post’s original 1919 chartering document outside Kent Memorial Hall. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

Centennial of service: Kent’s American Legion Post 15 celebrates 100 years on Sunday, Sept. 22

Organization has helped many veterans, their families and the community

For 100 years, American Legion Post 15 has shone steadfast in helping veterans and their families in the Kent community.

That unbreakable bond has transcended generations, keeping veterans young and old connected, unified for the common good of others.

Since its charter in 1919, the American Legion has played a role in supporting veterans benefits and other needs while promoting an individual’s obligation to community and country, peace and good will.

Few Posts throughout the state and beyond have stayed together for 100 years, yet Post 15 has been resolute. It remains an important social outlet and resource for veterans.

There are nearly two million members of the American Legion today, making it the country’s largest wartime veterans service organization. The American Legion has more than 12,000 posts in communities throughout the United States.

Post 15 – 300 members strong – recognizes its achievement at a community centennial celebration Sunday, Sept. 22.

“I would like to see it go another 100 years at least. It’s a grand thing,” said Post Commander Don Whittington, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam from 1964-67 and later in Germany. “We are always going to have veterans, one way or another. … I would like to see it continue as much as possible … to see any veteran to be involved as much as possible.”

Post 15’s staying power comes from a group of veterans who share an unshakable brotherhood, committed to the cause.

The Post 15 remains active in various events and activities such as charitable fundraisers, sponsoring youth programs, performing annual Veterans Day and Memorial Day services for the community, participating in local parades and programs, serving dinners for the local community, and hosting dances and weddings and birthday parties at its hall.

Post 15’s Honor/Color Guard – one of the most prestigious in the area – does funeral internments three days a month and, when called upon, at Tahoma National Cemetery for departed wartime and peacetime veterans.

The Post 15 also conducts, promotes and supports many career fairs for veterans and transitioning service members, bringing employers face to face with job hunters.

Once a veteran joins Post 15, they can serve their community by volunteering for many Post-sponsored charitable programs and events.

The list of projects and programs the Post 15 is involved in goes on and on, said Legionnaire Chriss Moen, the Post’s second vice commander.

“Again, by doing this for over 100 years speaks for its self,” Moen said. “The local community respects and is proud of Post 15 and has respectively thanked us many times over for the services we provide to the community. Hopefully what Post 15 has done over the last 100 years has influenced the community. So much has been accomplished in the last 100 years of Post 15 history, but remember there is a lot more Post 15 wants to do and accomplish for the community. Post 15 is already preparing for the next 100 years.”

Post 15 does what it can to help struggling veterans find their way.

“We can direct them to where they can get the help that they need,” Whittington said. “We try to do what we can. … We try to help their families as much as possible … making sure they have a constant, secure life.”

Post 15 helps build camaraderie, bringing veterans together rather than leaving them alone, isolated.

“It’s a lifetime affiliation, and quite frankly I think some veterans are more comfortable associating with other veterans,” said John Fredrickson, an Air Force veteran, author and the Post’s historian and finance officer. “If you come here, you’re probably talking about a veteran. You know this guy was an Army helicopter pilot, and you know this guys was a navigator on bomber planes, and somebody else might have been in the infantry. So you typically know (each other’s) military background, what your military experience was like.”

Post 15 leaders say the organization continues to run well on the backbone of a well-structured and prescribed constitution.

In 1919, the American Legion and Post 15 were founded on the four pillars: veterans affairs and rehabilitation, national security, Americanism, and children and youth.

“It’s important to remember that since 1919, Post 15 is still practicing and implementing and not wavering from the four pillars set by its founding original members,” Moen said. “It’s these time-honored traditions and rules that have been followed and passed down through each generation of Post 15 Legionnaire members, and thus Post 15 has … become a part of the largest nonprofit wartime veterans organization in the United States and possibly the world, the American Legion.

“I think it is very significant that Post 15 is 100 years old,” he said. “It’s monumental, it’s a moment in time to say that Post 15 has steadily and continuously practiced the four pillars of the American Legion. One-hundred years of patriotic service to America and our community is a significant milestone in the history of Post 15.”

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Centennial

Community celebrates 100th anniversary of the American Legion and Post 15

Time, venue: Noon-4 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 22, American Legion Post 15 Memorial Hall, 25405 97th Place S., Kent. Open to the public. Special guests. Free food (hot dogs, chips) and soft beverages/drinks. For more information, visit kentpost15.org, or call 253-859-9905.

Did you know?: Kent American Legion Post 15 was one of the very first units organized anywhere. Its charting document, which is on display, was signed in New York City on July 29, 1919. It bears the names of 17 founding members who were Kent-area WWI veterans.

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