The West Liberty American Legion Post 509 has pledged $5,000 to help fund the new athletic complex.
The “American Legion” is a federal program that was founded in 1919 in Paris, France at the end of WWI. The goal was to provide honorably discharged veterans with an organization and meeting place to stay connected with other service men and women and stay active in the community. The mission of the Legion is to support retired and active military personnel and families.
The West Liberty chapter was established 102 years ago and has approximately 50 active members. West Liberty Commander Ken Riley said they felt it was necessary to support the school project because of the impact it will have attracting new families to the community and as a way of giving back.
“After being invited to be part of the uniform services night at the football field, seeing all the support the school and community had and respect shown to all veterans. We are thrilled to give back anyway we can,” said Riley.
Activities Director Adam Loria said the Uniformed Services night at the football field was the highest attended game of the season.
“That was an amazing night for our school, the community, and military personnel,” said Loria. “We expected a large crowd, but the turnout for the game and donations for the event exceeded our expectations. I’m very grateful for the Legion gift and hope we can do more in the future to recognize the military.”
Legion members believe the new athletic complex will enhance the community and more families will want to make their home in West Liberty.
“This new complex makes West Liberty more attractive to families. As the community grows, so does membership in our organization and others,” said Treasurer Doug Calvin. “We are pleased to support projects that make West Liberty a better community.”
The Legion donation will go towards flag poles at the new athletic complex. There will be two flag poles - one at the baseball and softball fields and one at the football field.
The current football field was built in the early 1950s and was named “Memorial Field” in honor of all veterans. Adam Loria said the new football field will have the same name and the current field will serve as a practice facility and walking track for the community.
“We have no plans for the current field except to retain it and continue to use it for practices and community exercise," said Loria. "We discussed names for the new football field, but after learning the history of Memorial Field decided to continue the tradition to the new stadium.”
The Legion has helped install flags throughout West Liberty and hosts the “Avenue of the Flags” at the Oak Ridge Cemetery every year. They said that was part of the decision to sponsor the flag poles.
“We have helped fund and install most of the flags around town,” said Riley. “Helping with the school project makes sense. The Legion should have their name by those poles.”
In addition to the “Avenue of the Flags” the Legion also hosts fundraisers and special events for the community. Most recently they hosted the free Christmas movie at the New Strand Theater. Partner organizations, The Sons of the American Legion and The Auxiliary, are also active hosting events for the community and fundraisers for the Legion. All three organizations are very supportive of the school district.
“We are very grateful for everything the Legion members do for our school and our youth. We also thank all military members for their service,” said Superintendent Shaun Kruger. “Partnering with the Legion shows support for the military. We have several students each year that enlist in the military after graduation, and this helps expose them to that option.”