ENOSBURG FALLS — Shuttered since the start of COVID-19, Enosburg Falls American Legion Post #42 will be reopening its doors May 15, just in time for Memorial Day.
“It’s been a long time,” says Post Commander Dan Cunningham, through a laugh.
Reflecting on the past year, Cunningham stops and looks back at the unknowns that existed and recalls being hopeful when talk of “flattening the curve” was going around last spring.
“It just got worse and it extended. So, it took a couple of months to realize that this was probably going to be a longer term shutdown than we had originally envisioned,” says Cunningham.
He says shutting down wasn’t a tough decision. Nobody knew how long we were going to be shut down and he never anticipated all the different things Post 42, which has separate bar and hall area, would have to do to keep the ball rolling.
“We were able to rent the hall area to a childcare facility. They needed overflow space, so that helped us immensely to stay afloat,” he said.
However, Cunningham says that The Legion had just paid a little over $1,000 for a new year of their liquor license in February.
“When you throw out that amount of money to renew your license and you don’t get to use it, it’s not refunded,” he said.
Nationwide there are nearly 2 million members of The American Legion, making it the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization and The Legion has more than 12,000 posts in communities throughout the United States. Besides providing comfort for vets, the legion also gives cash grants and volunteer aid to families of military service members and veterans during times of financial difficulty, short-handedness at home or natural disaster.
But this year, according to Cunningham, it was Post #42 that reached out looking for assistance.
We have a lot of members and we do get donations. We were fortunate enough that our financial officer Richard Roter, he was very good and we kept track of all the different programs that were opening in the state and we applied for everything we were eligible for,” he says.
In February, Post 42 received a grant from the Agency of Commerce and Community Development for approximately $6,000.
“That didn’t quite cover all of our losses but it sure made it up and gave us a little bit of a cushion to feel more comfortable that we weren’t operating on a shoe string month to month,” says Cunningham.
And while other veterans groups such as the VFW struggle, Cunningham says that he doesn’t think Post 42 — which usually has around 290 to 300 members — is in the same position.
“We do have an aging membership and it is a challenge to get younger members, but when you walk in and see the assistance you can get and the people that are tied in to the different programs in the state and the VA center and the help that’s available ... that’s invaluable,” he says.
For Memorial Day, all of Post 42’s event will take place on Sunday May 30. They plan to have an honor squad and visit local cemeteries, as well as the park, and do a quick ceremony in the morning and visit one cemetery in Montgomery.
In the afternoon, Vermont Thunder will ride into town from the veterans cemetery in Sharon.
“We’re doing good things and we look forward to the future,” says Cunningham.