BRATTLEBORO—There’s a lot of history sitting in the basement of American Legion Post 5.
The Legion home on Linden Street has accumulated all sorts of artifacts over the years, and Post 5 historian Russel Grabiec decided more people needed to see them.
Together with Daniel Guadalupe of the Brattleboro Historical Society, they put together a display at the Historical Society’s History Center at the Masonic Building on Main Street to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, and the 95th anniversary of the founding of the American Legion.
The exhibit includes World War I memorabilia, as well as uniforms from the Great War until the present.
Formed by veterans of World War I, the American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization. With about 2.4 million members, it is the largest veterans organization in the United States.
As advocates for veterans and their families, the Legion’s two biggest achievements were helping to create the U.S. Veterans Bureau in 1921, the forerunner of the Veterans Administration, and pushing for the passage of the Servicemen’s Adjustment Act, otherwise known as the GI Bill, in 1944.
Post 5 was chartered in Aug. 10, 1920. Its first commander, Pearl T. Clapp, was a founder of the American Legion. His portrait hangs in the display not far from the replica of the charter.
Lori Nelson, head of the Post 5 Auxiliary, donated the uniforms of her grandfather, who was in the Medical Corps in World War I, and her grandmother, who served in the U.S. Coast Guard Women’s Reserve, more popularly known as the SPARS. Both are in the display.
Another part of the display is the convention badges and ribbons from each of the Department of Vermont conventions from 1923 to 1963, many which bear the names of the former post commanders who wore them.
“We wanted to do a respectful display,” said Grabiec, an Air Force veteran.
The Legion collection will be on display for a couple more weeks, Grabiec said.