Lebanon Post 180 hosts American Legion National Commander

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Lebanon - posted Tue., Apr. 5, 2011
American Legion National Commander Jimmie Foster arrives at the Lebanon American Legion Post 180. Photos by Melanie Savage.
American Legion National Commander Jimmie Foster arrives at the Lebanon American Legion Post 180. Photos by Melanie Savage.

A visit from the national commander is a big honor for a local American Legion Post. This year, for the first time, it was Lebanon Post 180's turn. “This is the only post in the area they're visiting,” said Lebanon Adjutant T. Allan Palmer. “They're out touring rural Connecticut.” Jimmie Foster, the current National Commander, is in the midst of a 344-day tour of the United States. Foster, from Anchorage, Alaska, is retired from the Marine Corps and was elected National Commander in September of 2010.

“Anywhere we have troops, that's where we want to go,” said Foster. According to Everett G. Shepard III, Adjutant for the American Legion Department of Connecticut, the purpose of the tour is to “show the national commander what leagues are doing, and give him a sample of the leagues' different activities.” Stops in Connecticut have included Thompsonville, Oxford, The Coast Guard Academy, Jewett City, Three Rivers Community College and Litchfield county.

“All of the posts are different,” said Shepard, “and they are involved in different activities.”

While many posts are housed in buildings converted from schools and other buildings, the Lebanon post is somewhat unique, in that it was built as a dedicated American Legion Post. It was built in 1959, by Legion members and other volunteers from the community. Ed Bigenski, a World War II veteran and the post's current judge advocate, still remembers working on the building. “You had people who were experts at different trades, and you had people who just knew how to swing a hammer, like me,” said Bigenski.

Over the years, Lebanon Post 180 has seen its share of ups and downs. “We had about 24 members in 1986,” said Palmer. This year, Post 180 has 100 members. “We're very active,” said Palmer. “We support Boys' State (an American Legion youth organization), Girls' State, the Police Youth. We support Boy Scout Troop 180.”

The Post's main focus is making sure that the Memorial Day Parade is well-run, and supporting Veterans' Day activities. “We promote traditional Americanism,” said Palmer. A large, active membership has enabled the post to complete a number of extensive renovations over the past few years, including a new furnace, a new roof, a new ceiling in the meeting hall, new water pump, new windows, and new siding. They also recently resurfaced the building's parking lot. The result is a facility that post members were proud to show off during Foster's visit. The plan was to host a tour of the post building, show the national commander around to a few key locations in town, and then treat him to a celebratory dinner at the Fire Safety Complex. “This is a big honor for the post,” said current Post 180 Commander Kenyon Gardner.

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