Tuesday, March 17, 2009

F.D. Thompson veterans remember history

F.D. Thompson veterans remember history

Local American Legion post began 1946
By Freddie Downs
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After the first World War (1914-1917), it was noted that troop morale was at a very low point. Credit is given to the American Expedition Force (A.E.F.), which was stationed in France, for planning and implementing the Legion. In order to improve morale, one officer, a Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., suggested that they organize a group of veterans.

In March 1919, a group of 1,000 officers and enlisted men, known as the Paris Caucus, got together and ratified a Constitution; and on the 15th day of March 1919, the American Legion was born. Only men and women who have been on active duty in times of was would be eligible to be called a “Legionnaire,” in which that policy still stands today. It placed great emphasis on patriotism, education, disabled veterans and charitable organizations.

In the year 1936, World War II broke out and lasted until 1945. After being battle tested and battle worn, a group of strong black men from Ouachita Parish got together to further advance the interest and aims of Black Veterans. Their first meeting was held at the Tabernacle Baptist Church on the 13th of November 1946.

It was named F.D. Thompson Post 521. F.D. Thompson was part of the Fighting Marine force that toured the Western Pacific where this American “hero from Monroe, La.” Lost his life. Our first Commander was Ibra B. January, who died on the 25th of December 1987. In that same year, Willie Haynes, Jr., was elected the Commander. However, in between that time, we had several other notable Commanders: Jessie W. Moore, Edgar Adams, Roy Moy, Alfred Bailey, Sam Haynes, O.C. Elliott and Mose Flentroy to name a few.

These and other stalwarts of our community had vision and goals in mind such as helping veterans find jobs, get disabled veterans the medical attention that they needed and placed higher values on education. In past days, they have sent some of our children to Bayou Girls and Boys State, where our children learned about state government and met other youth of their caliber.

We still value education, our veterans, their families and the American Legion way. I stand on some of America’s broadest shoulders and I dare not tarnish the legacy that these great men have left and that includes Woody Staten and Sylvester George.

F.D. Thompson veterans remember history

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