In 1919, a group of 17 newly-returned World War I veterans gathered together to form and charter Fred E. Hayes Post 57 of The American Legion. The decision to organize an American Legion post resulted from the conclusion of these veterans that the American Legion was the representative veterans' organization in this country. That conclusion has been proven true as today the American Legion is the largest wartime veterans' organization with nearly 15,000 local Posts throughout America and over 3 million members who care about America, veterans, their families and our nation's youth.
Our Post Charter was granted on October 13, 1919, making us one of the earliest and continuously operating Posts in the State of Washington and in the Yakima Valley.
Eventually, the members obtained a loan and constructed a Post Home on Birch Street, one-half block North of the Presbyterian Church. For many years, this Post Home was the center of Post activities, community events and activities, wedding receptions, parties and veteran gatherings. The Post quickly sponsored Grandview's community Boy Scout Troop 43, which it supported for years.
By the early 1970's however, it was becoming too difficult and expensive to maintain the aging building, so it was sold. For a number of years, Post meetings and activities were held in various locations around the community. The Boy Scout Troop, now known as Troop 643, became affiliated with the Presbyterian Church.
In the late 1980's, the City of Grandview obtained a grant to build a new Senior Center on property they had leased to Yakima Valley Community College's Grandview campus. It soon became apparent they did not have enough money to finish the construction and furnish the building. In 1988, the Post stepped forward and offered $35,000 to complete the facility in exchange for a permanent meeting place, a secure room for storage of rifles and records, and wall space for a memorial to those who entered military sevice from Grandview. The City accepted the offer and the Carl Stevens Senior Center became our new Post Home. Carl Stevens, who had been mayor when the center was conceived and built, was a member of Post 57.
After a number of years, the Post raised $10,000 to place a commercial-styloe gas range in the kitchen. Shortly afterwords, the Post learned the Senior Center was being sold to Yakima Vallety Community College and that a new Senior Center of Community Center would be built. The initial shock that the Post would be without a home (and investment in the new stove becoming a wasted financial effort) when the City of Grandview stated the Post would be coming with them...and the stove was coming too.
The partnership between the City and the Post has grown stronger through the years.
Fred E. Hayes Unit 57 of The American Legion Auxiliary is affiliated with the Post. See "Auxiliary" button in the menu for additional information.
Over the years, the members of Post 57 have served in a number of District, Department and National leadership positions. Most notable was Alex Parke, who served as Department Commander in 1963. Gordon Blechschmidt served as National Executive Committeeman in 1964.
Most recently, Jim Davidson served as the Department Commander (2013-14) and the Department's Boy Scouts Chairman. He recently completed services as the Chairman of the Department Finance Commission. He too has served as District Commander for two terms, Department Vice Commander for Area IV (Southeast Washington) and three terms as Department Chaplain. He has served on various National committees and commissions..
Robert Gates has served as the 6th District Commander (2013-15) as well as on the Department National and Homeland Security Commission as the Army representative. He has served on the Department Audit Commission.
Dudley Brown has served on the Yakima County Veterans Committee, a position now occupied by Curt Nealen.
John Myers serves on the Department Finance Comission.
Curt Nealen has served on the Department Audit Commission.
A large number of mayors and councilmen from the City of Grandview as well as prominent school administrators and teachers have been Post members. At least one State Representative was a member of the Post.
Memorial Day has always been an important occasion in this community. In addition to memorial events in Grandview and the Lower Yaima Valley, the graves of every veteran of military service to our country who are buried in the Grandview Cemetery are decorated with a flag on this National holiday. Today, cooperating with the Grandview Veterans of Foreign Wars Post and local AMVETS Posts, Memorial Day ceremoinies are conducted at the cemetery. It is our intent to carry on this tradition to our last man to keep Memorial Day sacred to the memory of our war dead and to all veterans who have served our beloved country.
Armistice Day, now called Veterans' Day, originally marked the end of fighting in World War I. It is an important holiday on the calendar of Legionnaires everywhere and in the hearts of veterans. The Post sponsors an "SOS" Brunch for Veterans' Day each year and takes this opportunity to recognize achievements of veterans, law enforcement and public safety as well as community citizens.
The American Legion Birthday is celebrated each March. Our Post pauses at this tiime to honor our deceased members as well as recognize law enforcement and firefighter accomplishments in our community.
Graves Registration has been an important task of the Post. Since its inception, our Post has taken the lead in our community in maintaining the location of graves of veterans buried in the Grandview Cemetery. This allows us to decorate thus graves with an American flag each Memorial Day.
SCHOLARSHIP AND COMMUNITY PROJECTS
Each year, the Post sponsors one or more young men to attend Evergreen Boys State, a week-long hands-on experience in participating government. We also strive to perform service in multiple ways to our community.
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