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American Legion celebrating 100 years, locally and nationally

by Joan Hellyer

The number 100 has a significant meaning this year for members of American Legion Post No. 148 in Langhorne Borough.

The American Legion formed 100 years ago and so did the Post. And just as the Post was taking shape, members back then began the now 100-year tradition of staging the borough’s Memorial Day Parade.

“We are the ones that plan for it,” Post Commander Bob Osterhout said. “There are a lot of things to do.”

Bob and other Post members are devoting countless hours to preparing for festivities planned to mark the 100th anniversaries of the parade, Post and Legion.

The U.S. Congress chartered and incorporated the American Legion in 1919 to serve veterans. Local veterans named Post No. 148 in memory of Jesse Soby, a Hulmeville native and U.S. Army infantryman killed in France at the end of World War I.

The Post had as many as 400 members in the 1940s, the commander said. Membership now stands at 225.

All veterans are welcome to join the unit. Its mission has remained constant over the past century.

“We all get together for a common goal: to support and honor people who serve our country,” said Bob, a U.S. Army veteran.

Post members commemorate the efforts of local military personnel each May. They stage firing ceremonies at area cemeteries in the days leading up to Memorial Day.

Then they host a ceremony and parade on the last Monday in May to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in a military conflict.

This year’s tribute takes place May 27th and begins with a 9:00am ceremony behind the Post at 115 West Richardson Avenue in the borough.

Afghanistan War veteran Kevin McCloskey will be the guest speaker. The U.S. Army corporal was severely injured by an improvised explosive device while traveling in a convoy in 2008.

Following the ceremony the parade will begin about 9:30am and travel around the heart of Langhorne Borough.

The procession will include a float paying tribute to military personnel who served in conflicts over the past 100 years, organizers said.

Post members also will hand out small U.S. flags with a 100th anniversary sticker on each to people standing along the parade route.

Post members will continue to celebrate the 100th anniversary of their unit and the legion throughout the year.

Festivities will wrap up in December with the Post’s annual Bob Hope/USO show.

Beyond hosting the parade each year, members of the Post and its women’s auxiliary also visit patients at the Veterans Administration hospital in Philadelphia and send care packages to veterans confined to their homes and to U.S. troops who are currently deployed.

Post members also join in late May each year in the recognition of Neshaminy High School seniors who are going into the military after they graduate.

“We have a connection with these people,” Bob said. “We can all remember when we were drafted or signed up. It is nice to see young people do this now. You just have a real feeling of respect for them.”

Other Post-sponsored activities are geared toward the general population and include the annual Breakfast with Santa, serving food during the summer concert series in the borough and participating in the town’s annual car show in June and Harvest Day each autumn.

Go to www.new.jessesoby.org/site/# for information on how to buy an ad for the commemorative program of this year’s Memorial Day Parade in Langhorne Borough or to learn how to become a member of Post No. 148.