By TAYLOR HARTZ
The American Legion Kiltonic Post 72, located at 66 Main St., will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2019.
To prepare for the milestone, the legion is collecting memorabilia from veterans and their families and friends. If you’ve been hanging on to old photos, letters, or even stories passed down from veterans, now is the time to share them with the town.
John DeMello, a 40-year member of the legion, said he has been digging through the attic at the legion, collecting material for a state-wide history project that will help celebrate the anniversary.
Run by the Department of the Connecticut American Legion in Rocky Hill, Southington will contribute to an archival website of American Legions throughout the state.
“It’s a great undertaking,” said DeMello, who is working on compiling documents, photos, notes, and artifacts. DeMello said he has found memorabilia dating back to the legion’s first year, when he said many veterans mortgaged their homes to support the organization’s beginnings.
Founded in September 1919, Southington’s legion has been an active part of the community for 98 years. DeMello wants local residents to know the history of how the post was formed, what the legion does for the community, and what the organization stands for.
“It’s not just a bar where we trade war stories,” said DeMello, “We want to educate people about what we do.”
Each year, the legion hosts a Memorial Day parade, remembrance ceremonies, cemetery visits, and flag raising events to honor veterans on Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day.
Many of their events, including annual golf and bowling tournaments, raise funds that are donated back to programs across the town, state, and nation.
The legion itself is open to war veterans, while family members of veterans can join organizations including the Sons of the American Legion and the Women’s Auxiliary.
“There are a lot of people and spouses and families who have been involved in the legion over the years,” said DeMello, “We’re collecting anything anyone has that they can contribute to our history.”
To contribute, contact John DeMello at (860) 302-4666.