Out at the William A. Baker American Legion Post 363 in Lucasville, it doesn’t have to be Memorial Day to remember fallen veterans. The men at the post, including World War II veterans, work year round to honor and serve fallen and living veterans. However, it is during Memorial Day that they perform their greatest service to such individuals.
“Our busiest time is around Memorial Day,” stated Ron Caldwell, Korean War veteran and post member.
On Memorial Day, Post 363 decorates the graves of more than 800 veterans buried in the Lucasville area. That includes installation of more than 150 large flags and more than 800 burial flags in the two cemeteries in Valley Twp., five cemeteries in Jefferson Twp. and seven cemeteries in Morgan Twp. Families of deceased can purchase 5×8 flags for their lost loved ones. With the flag, the families also get a white cross with their loved one’s name engraved across the grave ornament. Burial flags are provided for all fallen veterans at no cost to the family. The free service, which started in 2000, is provided through various fundraisers held by the post throughout the year. Each year, the post hopes to have few funeral services. This year, they had four the week leading up to the holiday. In total, putting out the Memorial Day flags takes the post members three days. The first year of the program, the post had 15-20 members helping to put out 30 flags. This year, eight to 10 members helped with the untaking that has certainly expanded over the years.
“It’s an honor for us to do that for our fallen veterans,” commented post member Larry Merritt, who has been with the Legion 48 years since serving in the Army airborne. “We tell the families thank you for allowing us to do this,”
In addition to putting out Memorial Day decorations, the post participates in church and school programs, has scholarship programs for Northwest and Valley school districts, conducts fundraisers, takes part in Veteran’s Day observances and provides funeral services for veterans..
“We do approximately 60 funerals a year,” Caldwell confirmed.
This year, the post has already conducted nearly 30 funeral services.
“We’re probably a little different. We do more than a graveside service,” Caldwell explained.
Lucasville post members attend services where they do a walk through and salute, follow the procession to the cemetery, and conduct a graveside service that includes a reading, flag folding and presentation, firing squad and the playing of Taps.
Post 363 has a long history of serving Lucasville veterans.
“This post here was built and established in 1937,” Caldwell stated.
It was originally started by WWI veterans who built a log cabin that is still standing and is currently used by the auxiliary. The building in use by the post was built in the early 1990s. Last year, the post had 129 members, of which only approximately 15 are active.
“We are a small post here and don’t get much recognition, but these guys go out and work their tails off for anything that is needed,” Caldwell commented. “I would like to put the message out to all local veterans in our community that we need help. So many of our veterans have passed away, and our numbers are dropping. The most important thing that the Legion can do is make sure that other veterans get their proper honor when they pass away. So, if there are any veterans out there that still feel patriotic enough serve, we still serve our country here.”
At last count, the Legion stated that there were more than 6,400 veterans in Scioto County though they were unsure how many are in the Lucasville area. Any veterans interested in joining the Legion, can visit the post which is located across the street of the Lucasville Cemetery.
Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.