OUR OPINION: Monday was big day for Post 49

Monday was a big day for American Legion Post 49 in Tupelo.

Charles E. Schmidt, the American Legion national commander, visited the post’s new facility as part of his national tour.

An Oregon resident and Air Force veteran, Schmidt was elected national commander on Sept. 1. Since then, he has visited 144 posts across the country, as reported by the Daily Journal’s M. Scott Morris.

Schmidt addressed Legion members during a Monday morning breakfast meeting and praised the work that is done at local posts.

Also significant for Post 49, Schmidt presented a national resolution that singled out the efforts of one of their former members, the late Fred Ingellis. The World War II veteran held just about every local and state title possible during his years of service to the American Legion and eventually became national vice commander.

Monday’s resolution was given to his widow, Virginia, who also is an American Legion member. The couple has devoted more than 100 combined years to American Legion Post 49.

But perhaps the biggest moment for Post 49 was just being able to host Monday’s event in its new facility.

The days following the April 28, 2014 Tupelo tornado were a challenging time for the American Legion, as they were for much of the community.

The building that previously held Post 49 was badly destroyed and members faced a long uphill climb to rebuild.

As Post Commander Mike Pettigrew said in a past interview: “I found our post was not just destroyed. It was obliterated.”

Then came an outpouring of support from the community. Tupelo-based Eight Days of Hope dedicated countless volunteer hours to help construct a new facility. Many people also donated money and building materials that supplemented what the post received from insurance.

Monday’s event was not the official dedication. That actually happened last August, when the previous national commander, Dale Barnett, visited the facility as part of the motorcycle Legacy Ride fundraiser.

But the building wasn’t completely finished then. Schmidt’s visit was a significant milestone in that it was the first official American Legion event at Post 49 since it passed final inspection by city officials.

There is still a lot of work to do. Pettigrew said the mission now shifts to developing the grounds and ongoing maintenance. Numerous senior projects at Tupelo High School have aided that goal. And you can help too, as the group is seeking sponsors for pavers that honor fallen veterans.

We are glad to see Post 49 back up and running in the new facility. The group provides a great service to veterans and to the greater community, and we salute them for all of their efforts.

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