A Treasured Warsaw Tradition Returns As American Legion Post #217 Re-Opens

By: 
Judy Kramer
County Reporter
More than 200 people adorned in red, white and blue fashions, crowded the Hall during American Legion Post 217’s Grand Re-Opening celebration on May 26. The parking lot was full and an overflow of cars spilled onto the grass to the north of the building. Post 217 had extensive damage after an arson fire occurred on August 11, 2017, and it wasn’t until the day before the Re-Opening that renovation by contractors and volunteers was completed and Legion and Auxiliary members regained their building.
Excited members and the general public socialized with friends, danced or listened to the music of the Crossfire Band, and enjoyed a meal of roast hog, marinated slaw, baked beans, potato salad, deserts and other side dishes. There were door prizes and the opportunity to buy raffle tickets for various items. Participants at the re-opening talked about their plans to resume attending events at the Legion Hall such as dances, Taco Tuesdays and Thursday Shuffleboard. Legion Vice Commander Gary Hanson said that rentals of the hall are filling up quickly with weddings, gun shows and other events. 
“We have already scheduled rentals as far as September,” said Hanson. “Rental of the hall is $250 for non members, and $150 for members. Those interested in scheduling an event may call 660-438-7677. All activities held in the Legion Hall are non-smoking.”
A couple known as Rozella and Paul were one of the first to hit the dance floor when the Crossfire Band began playing. 
“We used to come to the American Legion before the fire, and we really enjoy it,” said Rozella. “There is a good turnout today and good support. Our community needs to support the American Legion.”
Bill Drefs said that he likes to come on Tuesdays to dance and thinks that Tuesday Tacos are awesome.
Norma and Graham Ard sat with friends at the celebration, and said that they had attended many functions there in the past. Graham Ard, a U.S. Navy veteran, has been a member of the American Legion since around 2006, and he and his wife plan to attend more events now that the building is open again.
Carolyn Sanford, President of the American Legion Auxiliary for the Department of Missouri, praised the many volunteers who spent time helping rebuild the Post from the concrete floors up, and helping prepare for the opening. She said there are presently 158 Auxiliary members. Current Legion Family memberships include approximately 380 Legion members and 80 members of the SAL (Sons of the American Legion.)
When the American Legion Post 217 was damaged, members leased a small, temporary facility down the road referred to as “The Annex.” It had been a bar many years ago and was able to give members a place to meet and socialize while waiting for the new facility to be built.
The American Legion Post 217 is a nonprofit organization helping veterans and children in the community. They offer dancing, dinners and other events to the public throughout the year and has a trap shooting range and a pool table. The Legion Riders are well known for their charitable work with children’s hospitals, schools, veteran’s homes, and severely injured wounded service members. The Color/Honor Guard participates in community events all year such as the VFW service in Cross Timbers, honoring all veterans who died serving their country. They take part in parades and perform flag ceremonies, giving flags to the families of veterans at funerals that take place in Benton and surrounding counties. 
American Legion meetings take place on the third Monday of each month.
 

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