The Former History of Marietta’s American Legion/Auxiliary Post 537
The American Legion and Auxiliary were both organized in the year 1919. It was formed as a patriotic veteran organization focusing on service to veterans, service members and communities. During the segregated years of the military, especially after the World Wars the southern states with Georgia being included black veterans were allowed to form and be granted their charters with all the state/local privileges. The only thing was to remain separate but equal during those times. The Black American Legion Post homes were issued the 500 series numbers and these still exist today. In Marietta there were two American Legion Post the white post Horace Orr #29 and the black post Avery-Cuthbert #537. During the earlier segregated years the state was divided into three districts A, B and C, post 537 was in district C. The district meetings spring and fall conferences and conventions were all held separately. Delegates attending those meetings would board in private homes and not the surrounding hotels or motels. High School auditoriums and college auditoriums or special event halls were used to hold the various meetings. Today this no longer exist because of a part of the new integration and the passing of laws. We now continue to welcome all branches of the armed forces while serving God, Country and the Community.
History of Paul E. Kelly, Jr. Ladies Auxiliary Unit 296
The Auxiliary Unit 296 of Marietta began after the demise of the Avery-Cuthbert American Legion Post 537, the unit operated for approximately three years as a widow unit which means that it was granted special permission from the State of Georgia Auxiliary to continue operating without an active Legion Post as long as your membership and all obligations were met. Cheryl Long was the auxiliary president during that time; the meetings were rotated within the membership homes on 4th Sunday Afternoons. A group of veterans in Marietta started meeting and decided to reapply for their charter in the year of 1984. This was to be named Paul E. Kelly, Jr. American Legion Post 296 Inc. Our widow unit was asked to become a part of the ladies auxiliary, it was voted on and the majority agreed, this caused a division within the unit and several ladies agreed to join the Charles R. Milton American Legion Post 574 in Atlanta.
Our application was submitted to the Department Headquarters on January 15, 1985, credited and entered on February 25, 1985 at that time Edwin Dyer was the commander and Richard Ragland was the Post Adjutant. The following names became our charter members: Anna Johnson-President, Jeriene Bonner-Secretary, Cheryl Long-Treasurer others members are Rosa Scott, Geneva Carter, Bessie Wright, Frances Storey, Gloria Eppinger, Odene Williams, Edna Lockhart, Ruth Eppinger, Harriett Moody, Sharon Thomas, Gayle Ragland, Mary Dyer, Deane Bonner, Rosa Branch, Mary Lou Tillard, Harriett Peavy and Mildred McMickens. We were granted our permanent charter on March 7, 1985.
The start of our auxiliary unit brought new life as we were excited and rallied behind our legionnaires of Post 296, several programs were started, visits to the VA Hospitals, poppy program and committees were formed as our membership grew we were rewarded several certificates for the work we achieved we also added the junior auxiliary and began to train them. They had regular meetings attended the VA Hospitals with the seniors attended the Rock Eagle Conferences and Girl State. We all participated jointly with the Legionnaires with community appreciation cook outs, Easter Egg hunts, Youth Halloween celebrations, Thanksgiving Basket Give-a-ways, School Supply give a ways, and Sickle Cell Anemia Walk-a-thons and Healthfair etc.
Each new president and set of officers brought about changes that enhanced us to continue to go forward for the Good of the Legion. We continue to attend all the scheduled trainings, district meetings, fall and spring conferences and state conventions. Unit 296 proudly presents the following presidents: Anna Johnson, Rosa Scott, Frances “Missie” Cook, Nancy Longshore, Muriel Medlock, Alice Weaver, Cassandra Heath, Frances Muldrew, Cheryl Jackson, Betty Rosser, Cherryland Oby, Kathy Branscomb, Mildred McMickens, Ann Flanagan and currently CarlaThomas.
We continue with pride to move up the ladder in the District, and State Levels of the Auxiliary and continue to carry out our mission: In the spirit of service not self, the mission of the American Legion Auxiliary is to support the American Legion and honor the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of veterans, military, and their families, both at home and abroad. For God and Country we advocate for veterans, educate our citizens, mentor youth, and promote patriotism, good citizenship, peace and security.