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American Legion to celebrate a century of service

This is the man – Howard R. Smith – that the American Legion Post No. 137 in New Castle is named after, a local youth who died in an accident while serving in Scotland. The legion celebrates its 100th anniversary Saturday with a variety of activities. Photo courtesy collection of Doug Magers

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

One hundred years ago, New Castle, Indiana, America and the world were much different places. Yet, one hundred years later, the common thread in communities, states and the nation remains intertwined in the uniforms worn by military personnel – those served by the American Legion.

This Saturday, the Howard R. Smith Post No. 137 will join in a national celebration in honor of the American Legion’s 100th anniversary. The local post at 519 New York Ave., New Castle, will have an open house all day and feature a number of planned activities from noon to 5 p.m.

The planned activities include:

• A Veterans Administration (VA) representative will be available to field benefit questions;

• A representative will be present with information about the “free cell phone for veterans” program;

• Cornhole games will be available all day; and

• Hot dogs, hamburgers and side dishes will be served.

The special day will include a visit by the American Legion Riders, a group of approximately 100 members from Lapel Post No. 212. Plans call for the veterans benefit ride to stop in New Castle for lunch. Mayor Greg York is expected to attend the lunch in support of veterans.

Saturday evening entertainment will begin at 8 p.m., featuring T & C Karaoke.

The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization. Focusing on service to veterans, service members and communities, the Legion evolved from a group of war-weary veterans of World War I into one of the most influential nonprofit groups in the United States.

According to its website, membership swiftly grew to over 1 million, and local posts sprang up across the country. Today, membership stands at over 2 million in more than 13,000 posts worldwide. The posts are organized into 55 departments: one each for the 50 states, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, France, Mexico and the Philippines.

Local post named for fallen soldier

Howard R. Smith – the man for whom New Castle’s American Legion Post is named – died in Gervain, Scotland as a result of a May 27, 1918 accident.

A son of local residents Edward and Mary Bouslog Smith, he had enlisted in the aviation service of the U.S. Army in June of 1917.

His body was returned to the United States and buried in South Mound Cemetery with full military honors on Nov. 20, 1919.

Before his burial, Smith’s body laid in state in the corridors of the Henry County Courthouse for 48 hours.