Roxboro Kiwanis hear legion’s history, activities

Nov. 26, 2013 @ 03:30 PM

At the Nov. 11 meeting of the Roxboro Kiwanis Club, Reginald  Horton presented a program on the activities of the American Legion, locally and around the country.  Horton is a Person county native and a graduate of Piedmont Technical Institute (now Piedmont Community College), where he earned a degree in industrial management technology.  A U. S. Army veteran who served in Vietnam, he is adjutant of American Legion Post 138 in Person County.  He is a retired Progress Energy employee, a board member of Chapter 72 of the Disabled American Veterans and is involved in the new Person County Veterans’ Council.

He noted that the American Legion was chartered in 1919 by the U. S. Congress and has become one of the most influential nonprofit organizations in the country.  There are more than 2.4 million members and 55 departments, one for each state and five other countries. 

The VFW was instrumental in the 1920s in the creation of what has become the U. S. Veterans Administration.  Other significant contributions of the organization include the drafting of the first flag code and the creation of the American Legion baseball program.  The permanent home of the American Legion Baseball World Series is in Shelby.

Horton reminded the club that in the 1930s the VFW began the Boys State program and the National High School Oratorical Contest.  During the 1940s it drafted the GI Bill of Rights, enacted into law as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act.  The organization has continued to be actively involved in various aspects of American life, including the formation of a Child Welfare Foundation and a National Emergency Fund to aid in disaster response.

Locally, Post 138 was chartered in 1922 and named for Lester Robert Blackwell, a Person County native who was one of only two North Carolinians to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor for service in World War I.  Post 138 sponsors an annual oratorical contest for students in grades 9-12.  It also sponsors Person County students attending a one-week Highway Patrol school program and a nursing scholarship competition in which local students compete at the state level. 

The post is actively involved in a number of other initiatives, including Junior ROTC awards at Person High and USO and Christian Help Center donations.  It recently formed a color guard which participates in local events.  Each year it places American flags on all marked veterans’ graves throughout the county. More than 2,000 flags were distributed last year.

Post 138 is at 218 Chub Lake Street in Roxboro and is staffed from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and from 10 a.m. to 2  p.m. Thursday and Friday.  It is funded through public and private donations and membership dues, raffles and other fundraisers, and is available to assist upon request with veterans’ services issues.  Horton closed by informing that Person County citizens receive several million dollars in veterans benefits each year.