TURNING BACK THE CLOCK
BY SABRINA LEE
Heading east on 24th St. in West Ogden, just around the bend is a small blue building, where the American Legion Post 9 members gather. The Baker-Merrill post has been around for over 100 years, serving Ogden and the greater Weber County area. With 480 members, they are the largest Legion in the State of Utah.
The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veteran’s organization. Over the last 100 years its member base has grown to over 2 million, all serving with the Legion as dedicated volunteers providing services to veterans, their families, and the communities they are based in. In 1925, they created the American Legion Baseball Program, where more than 505 Major League Baseball players are graduates of the program. They are the creators of Boys State and Boy’s Nation, which has expanded to Girls State: a yearly convention where teenagers engage in activities to educate them on the structure and operation of the federal government. In 1945, it was a former American Legion Commander that drafted what would become the G.I Bill on the back of a napkin.
American Legion Baker-Merrill Post 9 began in 1919. The first meetings were in the Continental Bakery. The group jumped around, meeting in multiple buildings downtown, landing in the little blue building in West Ogden in 2009. One of the buildings they were in was located across from St. Joseph’s Church. The American Legion Chateau on 24th Street had the Doughboy Statue on the outside of the building on display.
Post 9 has provided support for historical restoration projects. They partnered with the Weber County Heritage Foundation and the Daughters of the American Revolution to restore the Doughboy Statue and place it in the Ogden City Cemetery. They also were a part of the original restoration and move of the Merci Car from Salt Lake City to Ogden’s Union Station.
Service and support are what the Baker-Merrill Post 9 is all about. For over the last 100 years, they have served veterans and their families across the county. I was able to sit down with Terry Schow, Service Officer, Gary Mlynarski, Commander, Bob Yeaman, Adjutant, and members Barbara Beck (also a veteran), Sarah Garcia, to discuss what the Post is about, and how it serves the community. “We are a family,” said Terry Schow. “Post 9 offers help to veterans and their family members with benefits, mental health resources, navigating their G.I. Bill or VA Home loan.”
They are also about remembrance. Every spring the Ladies Auxiliary sell poppy pins to remember and honor those that fought and died during wars. Post 9 members and its extensions, the Sons of the American Legion, the American Legion Auxiliary, and the Legion Riders believe that by providing support to veterans and their families, even if it is just to listen to their experiences, it strengthens the veteran and therefore strengthens the community. Volunteer opportunities to fundraise for community projects, like the Merci Car and the Doughboy, and supporting the youth through the Boys and Girls State program here in Utah, allows the veteran to continue to “serve” after active duty.
For more information about joining, donating, or volunteering at American Legion Post 9,