This week carries significant meaning to American Legion Post 44 because it marks 102 years since the organization was established.
The American Legion, Post 44’s parent organization, was founded on March 15-17 in Paris, France, in 1919.
Teddy Roosevelt Jr., the eldest son of former President Theodore Roosevelt, was a major in the U.S. Army in World War I and was one of the American Legion’s founding fathers.
On Dec. 22, 1918, Roosevelt had already signed Henry T. Shasteen of Estill Springs into the Legion as an original member while in a hospital in Paris, France. Shasteen also became Estill Springs’ first mayor in 1948 and served three terms.
Roosevelt also signed Seth Henson to Post 44 while Henson was in a hospital in Ellis Island, New York, in 1919.
On May 8-10, 1919, in St. Louis, Missouri, the application for Post 44, Winchester, TN was signed and presented at that year’s convention.
Willis A. Shadow was the first commander of Post 44. Other charter members were Loyd Woods, Floyd Estill, Herner Johnson, Rivers McDowell, Ernest Knapper, Willis A. Shadow, Claud A. Anderton, Murrell Anderton, Homer George, Thomas Scott, T.C. Simmons, Worley Franklin, Willie Weddington, Robert Starnes and Herman H. Knies.
For its first 26 years, the American Legion held its monthly meetings on the Square in downtown Winchester.
Construction on the American Legion building, which is now located on North Vine Street, began in 1933 and was completed in 1936.
The building is made of limestone rock which was gathered and cut from Monteagle. The walls of the building are 18 inches thick.
On Veterans Day 1936, after a ceremony on the Square, legionnaires proceeded to their new building and enjoyed their first fish fry.
Since that time, the American Legion has been supporting the Franklin County community in different ways.
The building has hosted many meetings, dinners, weddings and receptions along with hosting the first Boy Scout group in Franklin County and holding dances and parties for high school students during the 1950s and 1960s.
Commander Ray Cobb said Post 44 has always partnered with the community and always will.
“Post 44 will continue to support the local community and youth programs,” he said. “We have been to schools to present the history of our American flag along with the history of the American Legion.
“Our main activity at this time are the crosses and flags dedicated to the deceased veterans of Franklin County.”
Last year, during Veterans Day, 192 flags and crosses were displayed.
This coming Memorial Day, the Legion is hoping to have 300-plus displays.
“The American Legion is here to support veterans and build patriotism throughout the community,” Cobb said.
For more information about the American Legion or its programs, contact Cobb at 931-308-8914.