FALMOUTH — In 1995 the American Legion Hall on Depot Road was kept dark with the shades drawn most of the time. For Arthur Frederiksen, a World War II U.S. Army veteran, that simply would not do.
“Before 1995, this place was pretty run down. There wasn’t much going on,” Frederiksen said.
So American Legion Post 164 began slowly increasing the number of events it participated in and, at the same time, began fixing up the Legion Hall so it could be utilized by other groups.
Members installed a ramp, painted the fences, put in a new bathroom, new windows and new doors, replaced the old flagpole and even completely redid the kitchen.
Now the post has 64 community projects it works on, which range from explaining the meaning of patriotism to school children, to outreach for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, to taking care of veteran’s graves throughout the community.
“We have 1,100 graves to decorate each year,” Commander and WWII U.S. Army veteran Arthur Schade said.
Frederiksen said one of the post’s biggest challenges is keeping up its membership. He said the group tries to keep on top of young veterans returning to the area to encourage them to participate, but that it can be a challenge.
“The young group, they’re hard as rocks, but we work hard to get them involved,” he said.
In addition to outreach, the American Legion often works with the town to help out those in the community who are struggling.
“We help with people looking for housing, try to help the homeless,” Frederiksen said.
On big holidays, like Veteran’s Day, members visit retirement and nursing homes in the area, participating in or running the holiday celebrations for the residents.
The post also rents its hall to community groups such as the Lions and Rotary. With the installation of a new fully functional kitchen, Frederiksen said the Legion is booking more and more private parties, too.
“We have a gentleman having his family here for Thanksgiving Dinner,” he said.
The Legion hall is full of framed photographs of past post commanders, snapshots from parades and events, and a wall of trophies and awards presented to members. There are even baseballs signed by the Little League teams the Legion sponsors each year.
“If you don’t take care of the community,” Frederiksen said, “you don’t survive.”
Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or firstname.lastname@example.org
World War II U.S. Army veteran and American Legion Post 164 Commander Arthur Schade, left, with fellow WWII U.S. Army veteran and former post Commander Arthur Frederiksen in the Legion Hall on Depot Road in Falmouth. For four days, starting on Nov. 11, the two men and other post members will travel to six retirement homes in the area to participate in Veterans Day celebrations.