One Legionnaire can lay claim to leading his posts through two major American Legion anniversaries.
“Posts” is not a misprint. Kenneth Franklin is 2018-2019 commander of Post 14 in Pocahontas, Va. But in 1968-1969, he was commander of Post 58 in Gary, W.Va. All told, the Navy veteran has been a member of the Legion for 63 years.
Of the 50th anniversary, Franklin remembers, “Gary was a small coal-mining town … we celebrated with a dinner at the Gary Country Club with an attendance of approximately 220, which included members and spouse or friend. The state commander and some of his officers were in attendance, and everyone enjoyed the evening.” The dinner “was talked about for several weeks, and so many were disappointed that they had not attended.” As for the feeling within the Legion at that time, “Everyone seemed to appreciate the formation of The American Legion in 1919 as a way for comrades to fellowship and be able to communicate about their experiences during the many conflicts members of the military have experienced.”
Franklin has a 100 percent Post Commander 1969 pin from that year that he has worn on his Legion cap ever since, even after he joined Post 14, so the possible coincidence wasn’t really one. Post 14’s plans for the 100th anniversary include a celebration dinner in the community, and getting the word out about the centennial.
Having been through one milestone as a leader of the Legion Family, Franklin has advice for making the most of this one: “Establish a program of recruitment so that when discharged from service, (potential members) know about The American Legion, its history and goals, and the power it has in numbers to keep our country free and safe as well as to provide the benefits they need – or may need in the future.”