MERIDEN — Nearly one hundred years ago, 15 former servicemen in the city assembled to lay the groundwork for what would become American Legion Post 45.
During the Sept. 19, 1919 meeting at the old Home Club on Colony Street, the men decided to submit an application to the American Legion’s National Headquarters to establish a local unit, according to Record-Journal stories published in 1919. One month later on Oct. 14, the post’s charter members voted to adopt a constitution and make Dr. David P. Smith their first commander, officially establishing the nonprofit which has served Meriden’s veterans for a century.
On Saturday, Post 45 will celebrate its centennial anniversary with an “All-American” picnic at the legion’s home, 835 Hanover Road. The event is free and open to the public and will be held from noon to 5 p.m.
Post Commander Bob Williams said the event will include a brief ceremony followed by an “open mic” session during which legion members, alumni, and any community members with past experiences with the legion’s property can share their thoughts and memories.
“Over 100 years, we've touched tens of thousands of lives in Meriden and beyond, and I think it’s good to reflect on those points,” Williams said.
The event will also include a commemorative race at the Silver City Quarter Midget Track, scheduled to begin at 2 p.m., and a legion alumni baseball game, scheduled for 3 p.m.
Food and drinks will be served. Williams recommends attendees bring a lawn chair. An event flyer states that those looking for more info can call 203-630-3451.
Post 45’s charter members initially decided to name the local unit, “Meriden Post,” to honor the contributions of Meriden residents during WWI, according to a 1919 R-J story.
“Meriden did so well during the war in every way, especially in sending men into the service, that the servicemen present thought it only fitting that the city be honored by having the post adopt its name,” the story read.
Much of the nonprofit’s mission early on focused on helping ex-servicemen acquire work after being discharged. Shortly after organizing, the local post moved into its first permanent home, an East Main Street property, known then as the Coe property, which sat at the current site of the Masonic Temple. Today, the post’s home is located along Hanover Pond.