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Letter to the Editor

Writer seeks to save American Legion Post

web posted February 27, 2008
Dear Editor,

I recently attended the funeral of a friend, who had served his country many years ago.  As always, I was moved by the sounds of “Taps,” and the salutes of the honor guard provided by his service.  Whether he was Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine or Coast Guard did not matter.  All that mattered was that he had served.

We, in Edgefield, may soon hear the sounds of “Taps,” played virtually.   Hezzie Griffis Post 30 of the American Legion, a long-time institution is passing slowly into the West.  This is a sad occurrence for a Post founded the same year the American Legion itself was founded, 1919.  The Post is named in honor of Hezzie Griffis, “the first Edgefield County resident to be killed in World War I.”

On February 21st, at the regular monthly meeting, four members were recognized for their long time-membership:  sixty years!  These long-time Legionnaires are Marion Delaughter, Bobby Reel, Charlie Mathis and Lee T. Mathis.

Additionally, the Post home, formerly the property of the county of Edgefield, was built by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) following “the great depression.”   It has been a part of the Edgefield scene for eighty years, but is in need of repairs and insurance which the dwindling membership can no longer afford.

Unlike days gone by, in which the Post was able to offer three scholarships to Boys State, this year the Post will be unable to offer any scholarships.
As the poet T. S. Eliot put it,

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends, 
Not with a bang but a whimper.

Indeed, the Post is in dire need of assistance.  The Post needs money, members, and your support. 

Currently, the Post is being supported by the financial generosity of its members, on a day-to-day basis.  With a small, ever diminishing, membership this can only go on so long.

Additionally, the Post needs members, the lifeblood of any organization, but especially so when the organization is a voluntary one, with a limited group to draw from.  At present, there are between 1,500 and 3,000 veterans living in Edgefield county who are eligible for membership, but have never joined.* 

Other Legion Posts, in Barnwell and Williston, have recently closed their doors.

When our country called, we, and many, many, others answered her call.  Some did not return, but paid their debt of honor to this land of ours with the last full measure of their being.  Many are paying still.

If you are a member, we ask you to attend meetings as often as you are able.  If you need a ride to a meeting, call the Commander, Sam Watson, 637-0371.

If you believe you are eligible for membership*, call the Adjutant, Ken Hartkopf, 637-5574, so that we can give you a personal invitation.

If you are a member of the public who would like to send a memorial gift to the Edgefield Post, please send it to Faye Vaughan, c/o Edgefield Veterans Affairs Office, PO Box 236, Edgefield, SC 29824, or, call Ms. Vaughan at 637-4012 to discuss how best to help.

Thank you for your interest at this very difficult time for our Post.

John D. Culbertson
Executive Officer
Hezzie Griffis Post 30
American Legion

*The requirement for membership is to have served on active duty, between:
“April 6, 1917 to November 11, 1918 (World War I)
December 7, 1941 to December 31, 1946 (World War II)
June 25, 1950 to January 31, 1955 (Korean War)
February 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975 (Vietnam War)
August 24, 1982 to July 31, 1984 (Lebanon/Grenada)
December 20, 1989 to January 31, 1990 (Operation Just Cause - Panama)
*August 2, 1990 to today (Operation Desert Shield/Storm)”

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