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Home News Royse City post embraces community in Legion’s centennial celebration

Royse City post embraces community in Legion’s centennial celebration

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Jason Castleberry feels a sense of obligation to continue the legacy of The American Legion while crafting the vision for the organization’s next century.

“We just wanted to celebrate The American Legion — past, present, future,” said Castleberry, adjutant of Post 100 in Royse City, Texas. “I’m in awe of what The American Legion and our forefathers have done and accomplished in a century to give us the benefits we have today. I feel like we owe it to them, and our kids and grandkids, to continue that legacy.”

The post’s commitment to its community was on full display during a special American Legion Birthday event at the Military Heritage Collection of North Texas, a rural museum housing an impressive assortment of military uniforms, artwork, vehicles and other memorabilia.

During the day, more than 100 visitors toured the museum, attended a flag retirement ceremony conducted by post members, enjoyed a cookout and participated in various activities for children. Those included local author Erin Kincaid reading her book, “Rock Me Right,” which teaches about coping with emotional issues; a showing of the movie Sgt. Stubby; and preparing care packages for deployed troops.

“Marking 100 years of helping veterans, families and communities is astonishing,” said Shawn Masters, post commander. “It’s hard to not celebrate that.”

The Royse City post, which now has 84 members, received its permanent charter in December 2017. In its short time in existence, the post has chiseled its niche of service into the rural community about an hour east of Dallas. It’s a mission that harkens back to the founders’ vision a century ago.

“The American Legion was determined to change the culture and public perception, no matter what it took, about veterans and the honorable nature of military service,” Masters said during his welcome address. “These veterans would spend the next century – as each war era begat a new generation of Legionnaires – devoted to community-building, the welfare of children, patriotism, education, peace and goodwill.”

Among the most recent veterans is Rosa Ortega, post vice commander. When Ortega separated she needed assistance and learned about the Legion. “When I found out that The American Legion helps out veterans and their families, I figured that is something I wanted to belong to,” she recalled. “I didn’t have that assistance when I got out.”

As a mother of two boys, ages 10 and 8, Ortega is driven to give back and support her community. She is among post members who help provide backpacks for schoolchildren in need.

“It’s important for people to know that after they get out, their service is not over,” she said. “The assistance is not over. It’s important to have that sense of belonging. We had it in we were in the military, and we have it now in the Legion.”

For Ortega, Post 100 is home. “The post is not only welcoming for kids, but for women and minorities,” she said. “It’s very important to me. The post is like a family.”

Among the community members in attendance was Royse City Mayor Janet Nichol, who thanked post members for their volunteer work. Nichol proclaimed Saturday as American Legion Centennial Day and “urged all citizens to honor The American Legion.”

In the post’s short time, it has already made an impact around the growing community.

“Our post is for the community, by the community,” Masters said. “We do have a heavy presence in Royse City and we do pride ourselves on if anyone needs help, just reach out to us and they know that. We’re usually one of those first ones to help out.”

During the community event, the post hosted its first flag retirement ceremony. “It’s really become a need our community because no one else does it,” Castleberry noted. “So we wanted to showcase the proper way to retire a flag.”

All of the day’s activities were designed to attract community members, whether or not they had military experience. For civilians, Castleberry said, “we would want them to understand that the veterans out here are continuing the fight. They left military service but they haven’t stopped fighting for veterans’ rights and serving their communities. What separates The American Legion from other organizations is our community involvement. We care about Royse City just as much as they do.”

That commitment was not lost on Department Commander Lloyd Buckmaster. “They are an example of what the Legion is all about, helping the community, assisting veterans, teaching Americanism. I’m proud of this post and what they are doing to support the Four Pillars that we stand for.”

Inside the celebration, Royse City children were helping the post’s Auxiliary unit put together care packages for troops stationed around the world. Children were putting their handprints and a note to the troops on a bedsheet that would be included with shampoo and other toiletries, snacks like popcorn, handwarmers, powdered drinks and more.

“We give them the basic necessities,” said Tabatha Mueller, a member of the post’s Auxiliary unit. “They love getting stuff from us. They know that there are people out here who still support them and love them.”

As The American Legion celebrates its 100th anniversary this weekend throughout its 12,000 posts in 55 departments, it’s a time to reflect on the legacy of the first century but envision successes for the second 100 years.

“I really want us to continue what we have started,” Castleberry said. “We’ve embraced social media. We Facebook Live our meetings. We consider ourselves a 21st century post. We don’t have a building. What we want to do is to continue growing, helping veterans and serving our community.”

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