American Legion post marks organization’s centennial

March 31, 2019

BULLHEAD CITY — Not every 100th birthday party is the same.

Saturday’s had a rifle demonstration drill and a chorus of “hoo-rahs.”

Appropriate, since the party was for the American Legion, born a century ago this month as service members marking the end of World War I looked for the best way to honor their fallen comrades and support their wounded, and care for those widowed or orphaned by the conflict.

“Those troops envisioned a different kind of veterans organization,” Post 87 commander Paul Williams told a packed room at the Bullhead City post. “The American Legion would be built on strengthening the nation — not serving themselves — through four primary pillars of volunteer work on behalf of veterans, defense, youth and Americanism.”

He said the Legion was instrumental in getting the U.S. Veterans Bureau, the Veterans Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs created.

“The American Legion also found jobs for hundreds of thousands of veterans in the 1920s and fed entire communities during the Depression,” Williams said.

Other achievements, he said, included getting the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (the G.I. Bill) passed, research that helped veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and other service-related illnesses, and helping to get the modern National Guard and Reserves launched.

Other speakers at the event included State Rep. Regina Cobb, State Sen. Sonny Borrelli and Vice Mayor Tami Ring, who read a proclamation declaring Saturday “American Legion Centennial Day” in Bullhead City.

Cobb wished the Legion a happy birthday and read a letter from State Rep. Leo Biasiucci, who wrote that without veterans, the U.S. “would not have the freedoms we enjoy today.”

Borrelli, a Marine veteran and former Legion vice commander, quoted Former Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni and President Ronald Reagan in his speech.

“Freedom must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation,” he said.

Borrelli also noted that Monday was National Medal of Honor Day and Friday was Vietnam War Veterans Day.

Speaking to Vietnam veterans in attendance, Borrelli said the narrative that the troops “lost” that war is fallacious, and that politicians in Congress undermined their work.

“You served with honor and distinction in every firefight, every skirmish and every battle he said. “And you kicked ass.”

Air Force JROTC cadets from Mohave High School served as a color guard and performed an armed demonstration drill at the event.