Post 160 has a long history with the Mount Greylock War Memorial in Adams built to honor the state's war dead. The Legion makes a trek up the mountain each Memorial Day weekend.
ADAMS, Mass. — The American Legion is celebrating its 100th year in 2019 and Adams Post 160 is honoring that history with a display at its former post home.
Led by post historian John Bordeau, the local branch has been collecting photographs and documents from its members and archives to feature in the main lobby at Town Hall. It's a perfect place for the exhibit as the Town Hall served the American Legion for several decades before moving to their current location on Forest Park Avenue.
The images on the wall depict images from World War I through today and include a photo of John F. Kennedy's 1959 visit to the Adams Legion and another of a gathering of more than 10,000 people for a World War II memorial service. They represent 100 years of service and sacrifice by local men and women from every branch of the military. The local Legion's Centennial Committee consists of members Dave Stoddard, Stan Gajda, Keith Lawson, Paul Hutchinson, and Conrad Sidway.
Committee head Bordeau, 76, served in the Air Force from 1960 to 1964 and has been a Legion member for 21 years. He spoke about his service and what the project means to him.
"I signed up I think a week after I turned 17. I signed up before I even graduated from high school. I had to have my parents sign for me," he recalled. "When I first joined the Legion, it was mostly World War II veterans. The way guys from my era were treated when they got back (from Vietnam) I think kept them from wanting to join. Although I served in that era I was not in Vietnam but it was tough for those guys. Getting all these pictures together has been good to remember why we all did this."
Gajda, 76, comes from a military family and has a unique perspective on what it means to serve.
"My father was killed in WWII. His name is actually on the town memorial. I went into the Air Force in 1961 for five years active but I never had to go to Vietnam because I was an only surviving son. I was stationed in France and ended up getting married there. I had three kids and two of them were military and the other one was a protester," he said. "I was working for Tog Manufacturing at one time and we went down to Rhode Island to see them launch a sub. My son was in school at [University of Rhode Island] and he was there with the protesters saying, 'Hi, Dad.'"
His two other kids are both retired military and Legion members and his grandson Gabriel is a couple weeks away from joining the Navy.
The American Legion, like many other service and social organizations, has seen a steady decline in membership over the past few decades. The Legion has seen its nationwide numbers dwindle from over 3 million 25 years ago to under 2 million today. Post 160's numbers are in line with those nationally.
"I think when I joined we had over 300 members and now it's probably around 200. And I'm surprised how well we are doing actually. I'm part of the firing squad at the funerals and we were losing 25-30 World War II and Korean War veterans every year. We're not seeing a lot of young guys replacing them," Bordeau said. "Ninety percent of the guys were World War II when I joined. Then little by little, we got Vietnam guys. Now I think over half the members are National Guard. Which we're very fortunate to have. We wouldn't have the post without them."
Adams Post 160 held its first official meeting as a chartered American Legion post on Sept. 5, 1919. It received at permanent charter on Sept. 3, 1920.
Bordeau said they might be planning some more events to mark the 1920 date.
"We're not there yet. We are meeting every two weeks and the guys throw out an idea and we try to work it out," he said. "We've talked to the Susan B. Anthony people to maybe have a float in their parade like we did for the Fall Foliage in North Adams. People seemed to really enjoy that."
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ADAMS, Mass. — The "Banners for Fallen Heroes" project has found a sponsor.
The project, which will honor Adams' servicemen and -women killed while serving the country with a banner hanging from utility poles through downtown, caught the eye of Adams Community Bank and it has stepped up to cover the associated costs.
"This is a no-brainer for our hometown. We know there will be some press obviously but we're not looking for that. This was something that was just right to do," said President and CEO Charlie O'Brien at this week's Fallen Heroes committee meeting. "These people have served our country so well, so nobly. Once we got some of the details everything just fell into place. It was something we had to do. We're happy and honored to be part of this project."
Selectman James Bush is part of the group and had trouble believing what he was hearing when he got the call from Senior Vice President of Lending Maureen Baran.
The Selectmen had asked Treasurer/Tax Collector Kelly Rice for a general health check of the town's collection progress at a meeting earlier this month and were pleased to hear her say on Wednesday that the numbers are generally positive.
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