Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 1322 in Van Buren will celebrate its 90th anniversary Saturday, Feb. 28, with a ribbon cutting and presentations from area legislators.
Members of VFW Post No. 1322 at 23 N. 20th St. will celebrate the birthday of one of the oldest posts in Arkansas with a ceremony beginning at 10 a.m. to honor its conception, followed by food and a tour of the facilities.
Post Quartermaster Matthew Hicks said the post was founded Feb. 13, 1925, and the current building that houses its members broke ground in February of 1950.
"From the information I’ve gathered, we’re in the top 25 of being the oldest post in Arkansas," Hicks said.
A number of area legislators will speak or make a presentation during the Feb. 28 ceremony, including State Rep. Charlene Fite, who will be the keynote speaker, Hicks said. Fite sits on the state military affairs committee.
Scott Bramlett, state commander for the Department of Arkansas Veterans of Foreign Wars, also will speak briefly, Hicks said.
A ribbon cutting will start the ceremony, which will be followed by refreshments and hot dogs and a tour of the recently updated facilities. The tour will be escorted by a Van Buren High School Junior ROTC honor guard.
"It’s basically an open house to let people see the work that’s been done and to showcase the building, in case someone wants to use it," Hicks said.
Named after Robert W. Jack, the first WWI casualty from Crawford County who died in 1918 at the age of 23, Post No. 1322 was in decline for about four years, Hicks said.
Membership was decreasing, and the building was in disrepair because of the lack of money, he said.
Then one member, James Mansfield, recruited several colleagues to join. The group "got the post up and running again," Hicks said.
A $24,000 grant from the Western Arkansas Planning and Development District and a $5,000 grant from Home Depot allowed for extensive repairs in almost every area, including rewiring the entire building.
"We want folks to know we never went away… we’re still here, still helping veterans and still helping our community," Hicks said.
By reaching reaching out the community and holding this celebration, Hicks said members also hope to become more involved in area activities and programs.