AMERICAN LEGION POST 17 HISTORY
In early February of 1930, a group of WWI veterans met at a Baptist church in Sand Springs to discuss the feasibility and the obvious need in organizing a veterans support group. The post-war needs of young veterans within the community were varied, and had thus far, gone unheeded by the nation as a whole. The veterans also wanted to be a contributor to the community, and provide what services they could, and be a force for positive advancement within the Sand Springs community. It was at this meeting that this small group decided to affiliate with the American Legion, a national veterans organization that had evolved during the post WWI years. It was the intent of this small group of individuals to submit a request to the American Legion National headquarters to charter a Post in their town. All they needed were enough fellow veterans to constitute a Post.
This fledgling Post of members held meetings above a business located at 2nd and Main Street, in a space that was generously donated by a fellow veteran. The membership grew to 15 by April 1930, and Mr. C.C. Evans was elected temporary Chairman, with Mr. Walter Cartwright as Finance Officer. The 14 Charter members voted to name their Post Saint Mihael, after the first major battle in which American troops participated. The original 14 Charter members of what was to become American Legion Post 17 were (in the order they are listed on the Charter):
C. C. Evans Walter R. Courtwright John A. Chapman
Thomas A. Akers Bernard Hall F. M. Farley
Rodney Clark George W. Harrison Robert Gibbs
Byron R. Roberts Roy F. Miller H. A. Trent
W. E. Allen Elonza Stevens
Their membership numbers grew dramatically over the next year, and the required number of 50 members was reached. A temporary charter was issued to Sand Springs Saint Miheal Post 17 on August 25, 1931. Permanent organization was then initiated, and permanent officers elected. The Post immediately went to work incorporating itself into the community and involving the Legion in every aspect of the City of Sand Springs daily life. On August 21, 1931, Saint Miheal Post 17 received its permanent state charter as a member of the American Legion.
In 1936, American Legion Post 17 requested and was subsequently granted a parcel of land from the Sand Springs Home and the City of Sand Springs. This parcel of land, located within Woodland Memorial cemetery, served exclusively as a final resting place for local veterans. This tradition was continued through the Vietnam War, at which time this sacred parcel of land reached capacity.
In the mid 1940's, Post 17 established the Veterans Memorial and installed a 105MM cannon at Woodland Memorial cemetery. Post 17 continued with their efforts by establishing and building the monument and flagpole at Veterans Memorial Stadium for Sand Springs High School. The original stadium was eventually relocated in the 1950's to its current location at Charles Page High School, with this memorial located on the North end of the stadium. On September 2, 2011, Sand Springs American Legion Post 17 rededicated the original monument along with a new monument and plaque, and dedicated to all veterans who have served.
In 2007, Post 17 elected for a name change. In a unanimous vote, Post 17 members renamed their Post in honor of Vietnam veteran Billie A. Hall. Special Forces Medic Billie A. Hall was a true hero in every sense of the word. He was also a member of the Sand Springs High School Class of 1957. Over the past several years, Post 17 has worked with the Class of 1957 in dedicating a plaque in honor of Billie A. Hall. Post 17 has also joined with Woodland Memorial cemetery in dedicating a monument in honor of his heroic sacrifice during the battle of Ashau in March 1966. Billie's on-site commander recommended him for a posthumous Medal of Honor for the unselfish valor he displayed in saving the lives of many of his comrades. The award was ultimately remanded and he instead received the Distinguished Service Cross. For the past decade, Post 17 has worked tirelessly in hopes of regaining the Medal of Honor for him and his family, for which he was originally recommended to receive by his comrades and superior officers.
A Womens Auxiliary of American Legion Post 17 was formed during the 1930's. The Legion has every reason to be proud of its Auxiliary. Auxiliary members are always anxious and willing to cooperate in every Legion activity.
MEMORIAL DAY has always been an outstanding occasion in this community. In addition to memorial events throughout the Sand Springs community, the goal of every Veteran to it's last man is to keep MEMORIAL DAY sacred to the memory of our war dead of all of the wars of the country; and all graves are decorated on this National Holiday. Each year, Post 17 raises 44 flags that line the central road of Woodland Memorial cemetary. In addition, small grave marker flags are positioned to identify the graves of our veterans. Post 17 sponsors a Memorial Day program with keynote speakers, and concludes with a luncheon hosted at Post 17. Poppies are distributed each year as well.
ARMISTICE DAY, now called VETERANS' DAY, originally marked the end of fighting in World War I. It is an important holiday on the calendar of Legionnaires everywhere and in the hearts of all Veterans. Annually, our Post actively participates by the hoisting of the flags at Woodland Memorial cemetery. Post 17 members also participate in the Tulsa Veterans Day Parade in downtown Tulsa. An important tradition was established in recognizing the 11 o'clock hour on the morning of November 11, 1911, marking the exact hour of the cessation of hostility on the war fronts. This is a day for all who served, and in honor of the day of cessation of hostilities on 11-11-11.
INDEPENDENCE DAY, better known as the FOURTH OF JULY, is a day of true celebration for all Americans. Post 17 hoists the flags at various locations to honor our day of independence from British rule.
Scholarships and Community Projects
American Legion Post 17 sponsors various scholarships for the further education of our children. We also sponsor and financially assist many worthy community projects and programs initiated by the National American Legion.
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