Post 144 History
American Legion Williston Post 144: Who We Are
The American Legion was chartered by the United States Congress in 1919 as a patriotic, wartime-veterans organization, the nonprofit organization, the nonprofit organization offers community-based services. Its more than three million members through over 14,000 posts worldwide offers immunization, substance abuse and crime prevention and financial assistance programs for veterans children. The American Legion also provides educational programs for the public. The organization conducts award ceremonies and volunteer activities. It monitors legislative and regulatory activities and recommends appropriate courses of action. The organization operates a library that provides military- related books, periodicals and journals for researchers and students. The American Legion also provides relocation, job placement and medical care programs for veteran members. It additionally provides law enforcement and disaster planning and preparation programs. The American Legion also offers American Legion Baseball, American Legion Boys State and Legion Riders programs. It maintains a location in Williston park, NY.
Williston Post 144 received its charter from the United States Congress in 1928 and is rapidly approaching its 100th anniversary. We invite you to be a part of this amazing organization- the oldest veterans organization in the USA with Congressional authorization.
History of American Legion Williston Post 144
by Paul Petrillo
On December 20, 1927, a group of eighteen WWI Veterans got together and made a formal request to the Department of New York Commander for a temporary charter to be issued for a new American Legion post. A Minimum of 15 members was required. It was to be called Williston Post No. 144. The Department Commander endorsed the request the next day and sent it to the National Adjutant for approval. Final approval was granted by the Department Commander on January 7, 1928. Thus, a baby was born.
With a paid membership of thirty-five, approximately 100 servicemen to draw from/ a rented building in which to hold meeting. and no mentionable funds, but with a deep determination to form a post that would benefit the community, state and nation, Post 144 applied for a permanent charter. The first slate of officers were:
Commander Herman A. Winters
Adjutant Arthur Wagner
Treasurer C. Grant Frick
Historian Sidney I. Brothers
Service Officer Herman A. Winters
News Correspondent Walter A. Capitain
The standing committees functioning at the beginning are a good measurement of the activities of the post at the time:
Americanism Community and Civic Betterment
Service Visiting Program
Finance and Audit Publicity
Legal Aid Athletics
From the beginning the Post became involved in programs of community betterment services and patriotic causes. They sponsored Memorial and Independence Day services and celebrations. from funds raised through dances and entertainment, flags were purchased and distributed to the resident for display on appropriate days. In this birthday year, many activities were centered on the organization and buildup of membership.
On July 7, 1928, Post 144 applied for a permanent charter. The charter was given under the hand and seal of the National Commander, duly attested by the National adjutant at headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana on the 21st day of July, 1928. It was countersigned by the Commander and the Adjutant for the Department of New York at New York City on July 31, 1928.
In the early years, meetings were held in the old Village Hall on the south side of hillside Avenue between Park and Willis Avenues the people of the community, the Village officials and other organizations were very helpful to the new post. From the beginning the Post tried to repay the community for their acts of kindness by engaging in charitable acts of its own. It sponsored Memorial and Independence Day services and parades. One of the first deeds was to donate money to Veterans in King Park Hospital. Its small treasury came from money donated by individual members. Later, the donations became much larger and more diversified. They included Magazines, clothing, phonograph records and playing cards. During the first year, the newly formed post received its first citation in Nassau County for complying with President Coolidge's request relief work in giving aid to needy families.
In 1932, the Post increased in size to 86. It was then that the Lady Auxiliary was formed and worked closely with Post members in all the Legion programs The Great Depression took its toll, but despite declining income, the members administered to the needy during the grim period of unemployment this included at Christmas time when toys were collected, repaired and distributed, and food package were given to families in dire need. Patriotic aspects were continued by decorating graves and parading on Memorial Day. When time called for an uplifting of The American spirit, Legionnaires donated their time money.
On September 19, 1938 a clubhouse committee was formed to consider the question of permanent quarters for the post. On October 28, 1941 a vote was taken which approved the purchase of apiece of land at Hillside - Lots 17,18,19 of block 792- presently occupied by the medical center. Through negotiations with W.F. Chatlos, the builder who developed most of Williston Park, a swap was made between this property and the property on which the present Post now stands. Building was delayed, however, as more important things were occupying the attention of the post and the Nation at that time.
As war clouds gathered, America was adopting an attitude of preparedness. Post members volunteered for Civil Defense positions. Arrangements were made for riflery instructions and shooting practice. members worked with the FBI on sabotage prevention. On October 10, 1941, the whole Post was on air raid duty at the Mineola courthouse. Later that month, a mobilization list was made so the Post could act as a Civil Defense Unit. When the War began, Post military activities continued on a more comprehensive basis. American Legion Posts all over the nation took many Civil Defense jobs where manpower was needed. Williston Post did its share in this regard.
When the war was over, the Post increased its membership to over 300. it became increasingly apparent that a club house was needed. A fundraising drive was started by Post members in 1945 for the construction of the Legion dugout. The goal amount was projected to be $15,000. In1946, with the Purchase of additional property, the plot was enlarged to its present 176' x 120' . construction began in 1946 and completed in 1947 at a cost of $23,000.
The initiator and leading spirt in the construction of the original building was post Commander John R. Nelson. The money required was raised by the Post Treasury by selling non-interest-bearing bounds to residents and friends of the Legion. Albert Wenzel was chairman of the committee.
In grateful acknowledgment to the community for their help in the construction, the building was used to promote youth groups. It sponsored baseball teams and donated the Hall for policemen association, little league, boy scouts and other civic groups.
During the 1950s and 1960s the Legion and the community of which it was an integral part, continued to grow. As Long Island developed, Williston Post continue to participate in deeds which were charitable and patriotic in nature.
In 1973, disaster struck when a fire virtually destroyed all of the original building and many of the post records dating back to its origin. it was subsequently determined that fire was the result of arson, but the culprit was never apprehended.
The members were jolted by the loss of their beloved and historic building, but after the first shock wore off, they set to work to replace the Headquarters. Dozens of members joined in a determined effort to plan the replacement. In the interim, the Post conducted its business in the charred remnants to the building. To finance the new building, a bond issue was floated and hundreds of Legionnaires and people in the community invested their hard-earned dollars in the construction program. The bonds bore interest at the prevailing rate and had a ten year term. Over the ten year period, most of the bounds were redeemed ahead of their maturity. The last bound was redeemed one month before it was fully matured.
The persistence and diligence of dedicated legionnaires in the years following that fatal fire led to the completion of a beautiful edifice. on September 19, 1976, the building was dedication with all the pomp and ceremony the occasion warranted. It truly was a feat of which the membership and local communities could be proud. It stands as a monument to those who have made the supreme sacrifice in all the wars.
Since its dedication, numerous improvements have been made to the building, adding to its beauty and utility. Most recently, in compliance with the American Disabilities Act, The building underwent a major construction effort to provide a ramp to the lower hall to accommodate the disabled. Work began in late 1992 and was completed in the spring of 1993.The ramp was officially dedicated at ribbon cutting ceremony on May 20, 1993. Plans are being formulated.to further comply with the Disabilities Act with an addition to the rear of the building which will house a lift and handicapped accessible restrooms in the upper level. This work is expected to be completed by the end of 1993.
During the 1980s and 1990s, the Post continued the basic programs of rehabilitation of the Veteran, caring for his children, and keeping the spirit of patriotism alive and well in Williston Park with intense dedication. This included visits to Veterans' hospitals inviting disabled Veterans to the Post for home cooked meals, and entertainment. Monetary donations were given when needed to enrich his quality of life.
Children of Veterans and non-veterans were aided during this period of time by holding Spring and Fall dances for "Special Children, " sponsoring baseball teams, and donating to Scouting projects. Oratorical essay and patriotic coloring contests were held to encourage the participation of students in the local communities.
Americanism activities of the Post continued. These included Post Everlasting Services followed by the Memorial Day Parade which had become an anticipated annual event to the residents of the Village and marching in the Independence Day Parade sponsored by the Williston Park Fire Department. A Color guard was provided for all public events. The practice of selling American Flags to the residents, at cost, was revitalized, with the ultimate goal of having every home in the Village display the American Flags on all public holidays. The Post continued the practice of donating to the Mclean Memorial Library at Hofstra University, providing books in memory of deceased Veterans, relative or friends.
The Post kept the community apprised of its activities by publishing articles and photos in the local tabloids. The Post's own publication, Sound Off, has kept both active and active and inactive members aware of all activities.
Throughout these two decades, the Legislative Program has kept members and residents informed of Veterans, right by being in constant touch with state and National Legislators, seeking their support of Veterans' benefits by "knocking on door" and letter-writing programs.
In the 1980s and 1990s, with the full support of the Ladies Auxiliary, Post 144 continued to be an asset to the community through the implementation of its programs. It has received county, state and national recognition. It represents the perfect picture of the ecology--the institution, and the society of which it is an integral part, cooperating in a harmonious relationship, each helping the other and each growing and prospering because the other has cooperated and made the whole to live. With the trying times that lie ahead, the Williston area can point with the pride at 500-plus members who make up the present enrollment of Williston Post 144, and who remain resolved and dedicated to the high ideals of The American Legion.