Charles A. Conklin American Legion Post 28 in Grand Haven, Mich., recently celebrated 103 years of serving veterans, veterans’ families and the local community. An amazing accomplishment considering the post survived two fires (1961 and 1971), the loss of a concession management contract in 1952 that helped pay a significant portion of the post’s building mortgage, and swings in the economy and public opinion including the Depression and Vietnam. The post’s family units play an integral role in its longevity and success.
Auxiliary Unit 28 was chartered April 9, 1920. In a short time frame, the unit went from serving refreshments to advocating for Grand Haven’s first civil defense program; successfully championing free local garbage collection; organizing voter support for a new local hospital; informing local businesses and city officials on the importance of Memorial Day; and raising revenue for Post 28 programs and capital projects through dinners, rummage sales, poppy sales and the sale of fruit baskets. Unit 28’s outreach expanded to helping veterans at the Veterans Home in Battle Creek, Mich. (more than 60 miles from Grand Haven) and orphaned children residing at a children’s billet. After the construction of Post 28’s permanent home in 1938, Unit 28 donated kitchen utensils, dishes and tableware, and was credited with the early payoff of two Post 28 mortgages.
Sons Squadron 28 was first chartered in 1937. At the time, 25 of the squadron members shared drum and bugle corps duties. During WWII membership dwindled, and the squadron eventually disbanded. In July 1990, a new SAL Squadron 28 was chartered. Times had changed and the new Squadron 28 launched fundraising campaigns through dinners, dances and annual events including a Las Vegas-themed casino-style event, beach volleyball bashes, Hawaiian luau nights and more. Squadron 28 volunteers helped install a new elevator at Post 28 and built a second-story outdoor deck overlooking beautiful Lake Michigan.
During a recent kitchen upgrade project, Post 28 officers looked to Squadron 28 and Unit 28 for assistance. Both provided financial and volunteer assistance. Squadron 28 donated $30,000.00, and Unit 28 $10,000.
As The American Legion moves forward into a second century of serving veterans, veterans’ families and local communities, family units will remain an integral part of the organization’s success.