American Legion Post 212 offers services for veterans
By Nick Longworth
The local Park Rapids American Legion Post 212 received its first temporary charter on Sept. 25, 1919.
The Legion was named after Otto Michael Hendrickson, the first man from Park Rapids killed during World War I in France.
After receiving their permanent charter on Oct. 21, 1920, the Legion effectively secured its place in Park Rapids history forever.
Over nine decades old the Park Rapids American Legion remains a staple of community involvement and volunteerism. At 93 years old, the Legion still provides beneficial assistance to veterans, their family members and community residents alike.
Engaging the public with yearly public events, the Legion strives to stay heavily involved in the community.
“Among the things we offer are four annual dinners open to all members,” said Mike Swanson, Legion commander, who is his second year in the position.
“The early bird dinner is for members who pay their dues early. There is also a birthday dinner for the Legion itself in the spring, Veterans Day and Memorial Day dinners. On Nov. 16 there will be a full-spread free dinner to all veterans and members of the public also. This will be one of the four dinners that are given. It is open to everybody from 4:30-7 p.m.,” Swanson said.
The Legion will also be heavily affiliated with a Veteran’s Day program at the Century school café-nasium. This year’s program is scheduled for Nov. 8 at 1:30 p.m.
The Veteran’s Day program is widely regarded as very popular and well attended.
“All of the kids in different grades dress up in their family member’s uniforms. Each one kid has a reading or skit that they go through honoring the branches of the service their relative served in. The school also provides extra uniforms as well; it ends up being pretty cool. We do a Memorial Day service at the school as well,” Swanson said.
The Legion acts as a collective community within the Park Rapids area, called The American Legion family. The family is composed of the post 212 Legionnaires, Legionnaire auxiliary and the sons of the American Legion.
“We all work together in a common goal for the best interest of the veterans and their families,” said Jerry Benham, Sgt. at Arms for the Legion.
The Legion also provides assistance to those looking for help dealing with the Veteran’s Service Office, contacting Veteran’s Service Officer Greg Remus on behalf of veterans. Other assistance is also provided for veterans as necessary.
“We are also heavily involved in the Fourth of July parade; the master of ceremonies for the parade is usually a veteran. We cater to the Gold Star mothers who are parents of a spouse of someone who has been killed in the line of duty. We also offer wheelchairs, canes and walkers available for anyone who should need them, free of charge,” Swanson said.
Those interested in becoming a Legionnaire of Post 212 are encouraged to sign up. Membership requirements include being a current or former member of the military and an application fee.