Saturday, Oct. 12 marks 100 years since the formation of the American Legion veterans’ organization, and to celebrate the date, the Oro Valley American Legion Post 132 is offering the public the opportunity to not only discuss history, but meet those who helped form it.
While the American Legion Centennial celebration will host veterans from World War II, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and more, the event will also celebrate local first responders and allows locals to learn more about the decorated local chapter.
“It’s a celebration of 100 years of tradition,” said Dan McGregor, Post 132 commander and Air Force veteran. “Our priority is helping veterans and veterans’ families, but we’re also recognizing our community partners, such as the fire department and police department. They all give so much, and if we can give a little bit back, that’s what’s important.”
The celebration takes place at Riverfront Park, and will host veterans and first responders, as well as opportunities for veterans’ benefits and claims counselors, and signups for free Honor Flight programs and the high school-sponsored “Veterans Heritage Project” for service members to tell their military stories.
Festivities also include pets’ patriotic costume contest, face painting, food vendors, children’s activities and a sculpture artist. The public is also invited to bring in their unserviceable American flags for proper disposal. Post 132’s community partners will also host information booths.
“Having the community there is probably what I’m most excited about,” McGregor said. “I’m just excited about having the opportunity to share what we do.”
While the celebration is for 100 years of the American Legion, this year also happens to be 10 years since the Oro Valley Post began, though Post 132 founding member Ed Davis says the event is a celebration of the larger institution.
Davis, a Navy veteran, first thought of joining a veterans’ organization when he moved to Oro Valley to retire, but there was no dedicated American Legion Post for the Northwest area. When asking other local veterans about forming a Post, he found there was a huge interest in starting one for Oro Valley.
“We’ve been the fastest growing American Legion Post in the state of Arizona since day one,” Davis said. “And we’re the only American Legion Post in the state that’s seen an increase in population in every one of our 10 years.”
Post 132, which chartered in April 2009, began with 77 members, and now has 470. Davis attributes this success to the Post’s diligence in supporting local veterans and veterans’ programs.
“It’s not so much a military organization as it is a military recognition and support organization,” McGregor said.
The nonprofit Post 132s’ activities include helping the homeless, partnering with businesses and events in the community, and supporting local veterans in need.
“When starting, we realized we had a clean slate, and we decided it was time to return to the basics, the founding principles of the organization,” Davis said. “As such, our local American Legion Post and auxiliary unit have been awarded almost every award an American Legion Post can receive. And I’m convinced we do well because our members have pride in the organization.”
These awards include the National Guard Bureau’s “Outstanding Community Partner” award and the Tucson Veterans Serving Veterans’ “Steadfast Care and Assistance of Veterans in Need” award.
The Oro Valley Post 132’s American Legion centennial celebration takes place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 12 at Riverfront Park, 551 W. Lambert Ln. The opening ceremony is at 11:30 a.m.with a posting of colors and National Anthem. Public invited. Free admission.