by Cori Hilsgen
Members of the St. Joseph American Legion Post 328 have been having a busy year celebrating the 100 years since it received its charter Nov. 5, 1919.
They, along with The American Legion Auxiliary and Sons of American Legion, would like other people to help them celebrate when they host a Community Day beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, at The American Legion in St. Joseph.
A 4 p.m. live auction at the event will feature a 67- by 84- inch “American Valor” quilt and a 40-by 50- inch “Proud to be an American” baby quilt created by the Church of St. Joseph quilting group, a chainsaw-carved wooden eagle valued at $2,200, by Mark Kurtz and a duck carving, by Lee Eisenschenk.
The event will also include live music by Jerry Biersbach and Joyce Maus, who will perform and coordinate additional music for listening to and dancing until 6 p.m. Food and drink will be available for purchase.
American Legion member Norm Hansen said they expect many community members will join them to show their support of veterans and the Legion on this day of celebration and fun.
The kickoff for the 100-year anniversary year-long celebration for The American Legion began at the Nov. 17, 2018, Veterans Day dinner during which Sixth District Commander Richard Cross was the guest speaker and spoke of the importance of The American Legion and expressed appreciation for the efforts of the St. Joseph Legion. St. Joseph Mayor Rick Schultz also presented the Legion with a proclamation declaring Nov. 11, 2018, as American Legion Centennial Day.
The St. Joseph Newsleader has been spotlighting Legion members, interviewed by Tom Klecker, throughout the year. Hansen said the human interest biographies have been well-received and the organization is appreciative of the coverage.
A Jan. 12, 2019, membership dinner honored four of eleven World War II veterans that are members of Post 328. The other seven members could not attend. Veterans in attendance included Larry Tillemans, Robert Wahlstrom, Don Schneider and Othmar Schmitz. Those who could not attend include Harold Gerlich, Richard Pike, Edward Reber, John Schlinder, Joe Zimmer, Lee Schroeder and Oswald Thelen.
The annual July Fourth parade was led by The American Legion Color Guard, commanded by Legionnaire Nick Studer. Several floats in the parade recognized veterans and included The American Legion’s float displaying the military uniforms of past and present and military branch flags for the five military services, St. Joseph Historical Society’s float displaying St. Joseph military memorabilia, prisoner of war hot-air balloon and Rock On Trucks float decorated in support of the military and a veterans theme.
A dinner Saturday, Aug. 24, at the Legion will honor Korean War veterans who are members of the Legion and an American Legion early bird dinner Sept. 19 will honor Vietnam Veterans who are members of the Legion. At the Thursday, Sept. 19, dinner, the Legion will also begin a silent auction of several historic Legion-themed liquor bottles, which will continue through its Saturday, Nov. 16, Veterans Day dinner.
On Nov. 16, The American Legion will hold its closing event of its year-long celebration with a guest speaker from The American Legion, Department of Minnesota office. At this dinner, they will honor the veterans of recent wars and conflicts: the first Iraq War and the wars and conflicts since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The American Legion
The St. Joseph American Legion, John Kuebelbeck Post 328, currently has 241 members. It is a charter post that was organized the first year the national organization was recognized by Congress in 1919 and follows the Legion’s commitment to service.
The St. Joseph post is named after John Kuebelbeck, the first St. Joseph soldier killed in action while serving in France during World War I. Kuebelbeck is buried in Romange, France.
The American Legion is a patriotic veterans organization which focuses on service to veterans, service members and communities. Its mission is committed to mentoring youth and sponsorship of wholesome programs in communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security and continued devotion to fellow service members and veterans.
The Legion has influenced social change in the country, achieved many benefits for veterans and helped implement many programs for children, such as American Legion Baseball .
The organization raises many dollars in donations at the local, state and national levels to help veterans and their families.
American Legion Auxiliary
St. Joseph’s American Legion Auxiliary Unit was chartered on July 1922 with 20 members signing the application for charter. The unit still has the original journal.
Since 1922, its members have served the needs of veterans, military service members, their families and community both financially and by volunteering through the many programs members financially support.
Auxiliary past president Rosie Court said St. Joseph’s current 98 members actively support The American Legion’s motto of “Service Not Self.” Members volunteer at the St. Cloud VA Health Care System through various areas, social activities and programs and in the area. The unit’s longest member is Mary Ann Krebsbach, for 61 years.
The mission statement of the auxiliary is “In the Spirit of Service Not Self,” supporting The American Legion and honoring the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of veterans, military and their families both at home and abroad. For God and Country, they advocate for veterans, educate citizens, mentor youth and promote patriotism, good citizenship, peace and security.
Court said they help with the May Poppy Campaign, distributing poppy cards to local businesses in exchange for donations that are used entirely for veterans programs at the St. Cloud VA. This year the organization received $6,400 in donations. The poppy became the official flower of the American Legion in 1921 in memory of the soldiers who fought on the battlefields in France and Belgium and are buried in Flanders Field during World War I. It is one of the oldest most recognized programs of the Auxiliary representing an emblem of sacrifice.
The St. Joseph Unit supports the Prisoner of War/Missing In Action programs (those still missing in action and unaccounted for), honor the Gold Star Mothers (deceased and one current member Jeannette Faughn, St. Joseph), who have lost a son or daughter in the active service of their country, the Eagles Healing Nest in Sauk Centre and Becky’s Troop Care Packages in St. Cloud.
Court said she commented to the Legion members at their annual meeting that “although things have changed over 100 years our unit’s Auxiliary will never quit as we advocate and support for our veterans, military service members and their families into the next century. Our goal remains the same, our unwavering commitment for the mission of The American Legion Auxiliary since 1919. We will continue to do this to remember the valiant efforts, courage and sacrifice for preserving our freedoms we enjoy every day that we will not take for granted.”
Sons of American Legion
There are 46 Sons of American Legion members in the St. Joseph American Legion Family. Founded in 1932, Sons of The American Legion honors the service and sacrifice of Legionnaires. It is made up of boys and men of all ages whose parents or grandparents served in the United States military and became eligible for membership in The American Legion.
Although Sons has its own membership, the organization is not a separate entity. It is a program of The American Legion and many Legionnaires hold dual membership. Often, these individuals started out as young members of the Sons. Later, when they were old enough to serve the military, they also became eligible to join the Legion.
The organization supports The American Legion in promoting programs such as veterans programs, Veterans Administration volunteerism, youth projects and fundraising. The Sons of the American Legion is one of many organizations that sponsors and supports the Citizens Flag Alliance, teaching the importance of respect for the flag.
Members of The American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary and Sons of The American Legion comprise the Legion Family.
All three organizations promote preserving American traditions and values, improving the quality of life for our nation’s children, caring for veterans and their families and teaching good citizenship.
Author: Cori Hilsgen
Hilsgen is a contributing reporter for the Newsleaders. The central Minnesota native is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management and Communication from Concordia University – St. Paul, MN and enjoys learning about and sharing other people’s stories through the pages of the Newsleaders.