MOSES LAKE — If New Year’s Day sounds like a strange time for the American Legion to dedicate a new flagpole, it’s because that pole got lost and then damaged on the way here.
“It took two months to get to us, and then it got lost, and then it got damaged, so the company had to resend it,” said Bill Purcell, the commander of American Legion Post. No. 209 in Moses Lake.
“It took quite a while. We were supposed to have this in July, for the 4th of July, but needless to say, it didn’t make it on time,” he said.
Nonetheless, a group of Legionnaires, along with Area Commander Denny Pittman and Moses Lake Acting Mayor Karen Liebrecht, gathered before a small crowd under a cold gray sky to dedicate the post’s shiny new 43-foot flagpole, which was donated by Home Depot.
“In this era of attacks on our patriotism, that we see today in the media, it seems almost politically correct for sports people to show disrespect for things we should all be standing for,” Liebrecht said.
“You are in a community that upholds you and respects you and wants to honor you in any way that we can,” Liebrecht said. “I want to thank you on behalf of the people of Moses Lake for all of the sacrifices you have made.”
Purcell said the post’s old flagpole had gotten rusty and “didn’t present well,” and was in dire need of replacing.
“We’re pretty proud of it,” he said. “This was a good way for the community and veterans to come together.”
Pittman said he attends at least a dozen Legion functions across the state in a typical year, everything from dedicating new flagpoles to dedicating new Legion halls.
“I’ve made a lot friends between here and the Canadian border,” he said.
The Legion, which was founded in France in 1919 by a group of American First World War veterans to boost morale and encourage patriotism among soldiers waiting to be demobilized, is one of the largest civic organizations in the United States, with a membership of nearly 2.5 million.
Pittman said the Legion focuses on helping veterans, particularly disabled veterans, and promoting child welfare.
“There are 600,000 veterans in Washington state alone, so we’re a big organization,” the Navy veteran said. “I love it.”
Charles H. Featherstone can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.