The following history of Columbia American Legion Post No. 581 was written by C. F. Weilbacher, then Post Historian, for a booklet entitled "A Brief History of Monroe County in the Great World War", and distributed with the compliments of the American Legion Post No. 581, Columbia. The history which covers the years from 1920 to 1958 follows:
Columbia Post No. 581, American Legion was organized on March 23, 1920. The organization work was conducted by Joseph McGlynn of E. St. Louis, district organizer. The first meeting, held at Post Headquarters, Turner Hall, was a decided success, twenty-four charter members being enrolled.
The following officers were elected at the first meeting:
Commander, R. C. Kunz
Vice Commander, Ira J. Mund
Adjutant, W. F. Schuck
Finance Officer, C. W. Breidecker
Chaplain, Henry Haberlah
Historian, C. F. Weilbacher
Service Officer, A. G. Klein
Employment Officer, C. L. Volkert
Athletic Officer, E. Parrott
Bugler, A. C. Metter
Sergeant-at-Arms, G. Stemler
In 1921 the same officers were re-elected. During the first year there were 56 members enrolled, bringing the total membership to 80. The Charter members of the American Legion were:
R. C. Kunz, Henry Haberlah, A. G. Klein, Albert Hofstetter, Alpha C. Smith, Walter F. Schuck,
Henry Thiele, Ira F. Mund, Mike Klohr, C. W. Breidecker, George Kutterer, John W. Thomas,
Henry D. Mehrtens, Earl G. Parrott, Charles Steinsieck, Frank D. Buncher, August Welsch,
Leo F. Kipping, Herman F. Taake and Louis Habermehl.
" Mr. Weilbacher, in commenting on the war efforts of Columbians says: "Columbia's success in every war activity was due to her splendid community spirit, the spirit that is the pride and design of Southern Illinois. Both individually and as a whole Columbia strove to "carry on" and succeeded as she always does when she so desires. Liberty Loans were all over-subscribed as were all the drives, and Columbia was generally the first precinct to go "Over the Top", Monroe County's Red Cross had its inception in Columbia immediately after the declaration of war, enrolling members and contributions months before Illinois was districted. Lodges, clubs, churches and individuals worked as a harmonious whole for humanity's sake, that Columbia's sons and daughters who served the colors and who were absent in the flesh, but present in the spirit, would remain away for as brief a time as possible.
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