Rockville Centre American Legion Post 303 was one of 16 Nassau County posts honored for 100 years of service to veterans at the annual American Legion Military Ball and Post Commander Night on Feb. 16.
Each year, the county’s several dozen American Legion posts gather to recognize the members’ “service to community, state and nation.” This year, as the national American Legion celebrates its 100th anniversary, the event honored the Nassau County posts that formed one century ago during the organization’s first year.
“This was a great event,” said Post 303 Commander Frank Colon. “It’s gratifying to recognize those individuals for doing a fantastic job all year and to see everyone and their families.”
More than 300 attendees enjoyed dinner and dancing at Leonard’s in Great Neck. Legion posts participated in a pageant of post colors and 16 posts were awarded for the 100-year achievement.
The pleasant evening was not without its emotional moments, noted former Post 303 Commander Joe Scarola. The event also served to remember those who died in war, another mission of the American Legion.
“It’s very important to me,” Scarola said. “All the guys who’ve served know people who didn’t come back. My arms work, my legs work. . . . We remember those less fortunate who served and sacrificed our country.”
U.S. Congress chartered the American Legion in 1919. The nonprofit was born out of a group of World War I veterans seeking to support one another. There are now more than 13,000 posts with more than 2 million members worldwide.
“The American Legion is all about veterans helping veterans,” Scarola said. “The fact that we gather once a year to show our camaraderie is special.”
Colon agreed, noting that a key part of the organization is to bring veterans together so members can see old friends and say thanks. He added that Post 303 would hold its own 100th anniversary celebration with the Rockville Centre community in August.