The Pleasantville American Legion Post 108 and Auxiliary Unit 108 celebrated their 100th anniversary on June 15.
“To me, it’s a pretty proud day,” says Legion Commander Denis Harkin. “Our unit has been around for 100 years. Most of the families have been in this community for a long time. It is quite an event. I’m very proud of our unit.”
Founded after World War I in 1919, the Pleasantville American Legion and Auxiliary have played a prominent role in the community. The groups are non-profit service organizations, so any money they receive is paid back to the community. This is done through scholarships for high school seniors, sending students to Boys State and Girls State in the summer, donating to the local food pantry and providing food baskets to the community at Christmas.
The Legion serves a pancake breakfast twice a year and is assisted by the Auxiliary unit. They also provide military rites for members of the community and place flags around town and on graves at the cemeteries. The Auxiliary raises money by selling poppies each spring, with the proceeds going to help veterans and their families, as well as programs to assist them.
“We wanted to show how we work in the community,” said Auxiliary member Joanne Bane McKay.
Members of the Pleasantville Legion and Auxiliary were eager to share their history and stories with community members during the centennial celebration. The Pleasantville Veteran’s Photo Memorial, put together by Legion member Dennis Murphy, welcomed guests in the lobby. There were also military uniforms, historical articles, veterans’ histories, and firearms on display to share the history of both groups and their members.
Throughout its 100 years of existence, the Pleasantville American Legion and Auxiliary have seen several changes. Maxine De Joode is the oldest member of the Auxiliary. She joined the group in 1953 and has played an active role throughout her membership.
“Our meetings used to be held in homes before we had the Memorial Hall,” said De Joode. “We would take turns going to different homes of members.”
The Auxiliary also used to hold bake sales and garages sales to help raise funds that were later given back to the community. De Joode says the Auxiliary also served monthly commercial dinners and cooked the meal that was provided for junior and senior prom.
“We’ve come quite a way. The Legion has grown and come very far. I think it’s really great that they’ve planned all this,” says De Joode, who serves as the chairman for Girls State and poppy donations each year. “I still enjoy being a member and doing what I can.”
Although there have been drops in enrollment in the past, both groups have recently seen growth in the number of people joining. The Legion and Auxiliary work together on projects to help reach more people.
“We’ve worked hard at making sure the Auxiliary is involved with the Legion,” said Harkin. “I like to say the more the merrier.”
Members of both the Legion and Auxiliary take great pride in celebrating the 100th anniversary.
“This is our home. This is our family,” says Auxiliary president Marsha Anthony Raitt. “The centennial means a lot. We’re very patriotic and very supportive of our town. It does mean a lot to us.”