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Local Commentary: Morris American Legion Post 29 to celebrate 90th anniversary

The American Legion Walter Tripp Post 29 of Morris, Minnesota, was chartered June 24, 1919, and a celebration is being planned to commemorate its 90th anniversary on July 24-25.

Post 29 was named in honor of Walter Tripp, son of L. D. and Katherine Tripp. He was the first Morris soldier to die in World War I.

The result of our efforts, while supporting our veterans, has built up in us higher ideals of our duties and responsibilities as citizens of this great country and this is the spirit which will propell us forward to "A Celebration of Service: 90 Years of Serving Veterans, Children and Communities."

The Department of Minnesota held the first in the world department convention at the Curtis Hotel in Minneapolis on March 18-19, 1920. On February 29, 1921, the Legion Auxiliary was organized, and on March 15, 1921, Katherine Tripp was elected the first President with 47 charter members. They originated the idea of bed jackets for hospitalized veterans. More than 1,200 were made and the unit became known as the "Bed Jacket Unit."

During World War II, the unit carried on extensive programs in the Red Cross and bought many war bonds. They assisted in Memorial services and aids to the disabled veterans through the distributions of hundreds and hundreds of poppies each year. At this time the membership was 145.

In May 1921, the Legion and Auxiliary as part of Memorial Day observances, erected a large White Cross at the entrance of the cemetery as a tribute to the men whose graves are on foreign soil. In October 1921, the unit sold raffle tickets on a car, with the largest amount going to the disabled soldiers fund, and other funds used to furnish the Legion room. In December 1921, thank you letters were received from soldiers hospitals in Minneapolis, and the U.S. Hospital at Fort Lyon, Colo. and the U.S. Naval Hospital at Fort Lyon, Colo.

Here are other highlights:

•In 1940, Mrs. C. A. Lee of the Morris Unit was 7th District President.

•On May 15, 1948, the Legion bought the Dr. E. T. Fitzgerald residence for their Legion Home.

•Nov. 15, 1960, 7th District President, Mrs. Donald Kienholz came to address our unit meeting.

•In 1966-1967, we sponsored Cub Scouts, honored five Gold Star Mothers and Sisters on Memorial Day, and sponsored a children's clinic.

•On Oct. 12, 1968, the American Legion Auxiliary's Junior Unit was organized.

•On March 29, 1969, the Junior Unit held the First Annual 7th District Spring Conference for Juniors.

•In 1968-1969, the American Legion Post 29 built its new 40-foot by 100-foot building at the location it is now.

•In 1970, the 7th District Convention was the first Post and Auxiliary husband and wife team.

•A Teachers Tea was held Oct. 29, 1970. This is a yearly observance since 1921.

•In 1971-1972, Evelyn Juergensen of the Morris Unit was 7th District President.

•In 1975-1976, Ruby Strand was the 50th President of Unit 29 of Morris. A Hawaiian Luau was held as a fund raiser.

•In 1980, Della DeGier of Morris Unit was 7th District President.

•In 1990, the 7th District Convention was held in Morris.

•In 1995, the 7th District Convention was held in Morris.

•The Unit 29 Auxiliary is still very active in sewing and continues to send homemade blankets and supplies to the V.A. medical centers in St. Cloud and Fergus Falls.

The Auxiliary has always been supportive of all the department programs. We hosted two District Conventions and have had one Department Commander, Calvin Van Horn, in 2005-2006.

In April 2009, National Guardsmen Charlie Company 151-FA left for one year deployment to Iraq. Each was presented with a homemade blanket and holiday boxes were sent.

Submitted by Corrine Flaten, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 29, Morris.