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60 years of patriotism

Funkstown Legion celebrates a milestone

Funkstown Legion celebrates a milestone

May 21, 2006|by TAMELA BAKER

FUNKSTOWN - Through fire and flood and several wars, veterans of all ages have found a home at Funkstown's Dixon-Troxell American Legion Post 211.

It's a place to play bingo, have dinner with the wife or have a drink with a friend and reminisce.

On Saturday, members gathered at the post headquarters to celebrate 60 years of service in Funkstown.

And as befits any such gathering, this one featured march music, comments from local dignitaries and solemn remembrances of comrades in arms whose final battles had ended. Special guests Saturday were the surviving charter members, who numbered 123 in 1946. Now, there are fewer than 10.

But there's no fading away for these old soldiers; they wear their patriotism proudly, and they still snap to attention and salute.

Those original members opted to start the post after returning from duty in World War II, post Commander Gordon Cook said.

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"There was an existing post dating to World War I situated in north Hagerstown, but there was genuine interest in establishing a legion post in closer proximity to the south end," Cook said.

Named for Rodney Dixon, the first Funkstown soldier to die in World War 1, and Ernest Troxell, the first local soldier to die in World War II, the group first met in homes, then in rooms above a doughnut shop on the town's main street.

In 1948, the legion moved to the former Red Man building to accommodate its growing membership. But a fire gutted that building, since rehabilitated and converted to apartments, in 1967. Members then built the present headquarters, expanding the building in 1985.

But it's in a flood zone, and was inundated by Hurricane Agnes in 1972 and Hurricane Eloise in 1975.

"I can remember when water came up to the chair rail," recalled Ric Santos, past state and national American Legion commander, the keynote speaker for Saturday's ceremony.

The post overcame those disasters, Cook said, and now boasts a membership 10 times that initial 123-member roll.

Funkstown's two representatives in the Maryland General Assembly, Sen. Donald F. Munson and Del. Robert A. McKee, both Washington County Republicans, presented citations from their respective chambers. Between patriotic numbers provided by members of the Boonsboro High School pep band, Santos recounted the national history and activities of the American Legion.

Formed by returning veterans of World War I, the legion was instrumental in winning benefits for veterans, including the GI Bill approved by Congress in 1944, he said. The legion has continued to secure benefits and support for veterans, he said, including those now serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"Your history mirrors the success of the American Legion as a whole," he said. "Let it continue for another 60 years."

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