On Presidents Day, Legion Aircraft Post 581 donated a document signed by President James Monroe to a nearby high school named for him. It hangs in a prominent position in the school's assembly hall.
The document grants 160 acres of land in the Indiana Territory to a Revolutionary War veteran, and includes a printer's illustration of Monroe.
Legionnaire Gene Denney inherited his father's collection of historical artifacts. His father, inspired after meeting President Franklin Roosevelt, became a "fine collector" of presidential documents, Denney said, among them this land grant. He trusts his father's judgment regarding authenticity.
Even so, the document was stored - unmounted - in his recreation room.
"I thought I can’t leave it here. I’m 84 yo now. ... What’s going to happen to it when I’m gone?" Denney said. Because of its name, he thought the local high school would be a good home for it. He approached the assistant principal, who was enthusiastic about the acquisition.
"Better for the long run for history and to give myself and my American Legion buddies something to be proud of - that we donated a very handsome part of history to James Monroe High School," he said. "It's a better place to keep it for eternity than my den."
Denney said the high school has about 2,500 students.
"There's a lot of students that will get the opp to see this document down the road and in the years ahead," he said.