CHILDERSBURG -- The Buck Thompson American Legion Post 68 in Childersburg is reopening, decades after it closed.

“The City of Childersburg and the American Legion have a rich and established history,” said Joe Teel Jr., acting commander of the Buck Thompson American Legion Post 68.

“In 1918, immediately following ‘The Great War,’ World War I veterans founded the American Legion,” says a history of the chapter provided by Teel. “Grateful to God Almighty for victory and happy to be alive, the Legionnaires had to fight a new war — a political one to achieve earned benefits for service-connected disabilities as well as educational opportunities.”

Teel said the Department of Veterans Affairs was formed to address those issues.

“Within a generation, America was again deeply involved in the second world war, with many local family members serving," according to the chapter the history. "In 1946, with the sounds, smells and wounds of war still fresh on their hearts and minds, Childersburg veterans organized the Buck Thompson American Legion Post 68 named after a local hero, an aviator who was shot down during a bombing raid.”

Teel said longtime Childersburg resident Mickey Finn, who served in the South Pacific, helped to purchase the old U.S.O. building by organizing a raffle for an automobile. The raffle netted $5,000, the price of the property.

“Back in the days of dry county politics, veterans organizations could legally sell alcohol,” according to the chapter history. “This led to many, if not most, posts and chapters becoming nothing more than redneck honky-tonks, beer joints, gambling casinos and dance halls — fond memories for some. As the story goes, two friends got into a fight which led to one being mortally wounded by a stab wound to the heart, and the post closed.”

Teel said eventually, the City of Childersburg used the old U.S.O. building as the city's recreation department until the R.S. Limbaugh Community Center was built in the 1970s. The post still owns the property, although the building is gone.

Teel said decades after it closed, the post has been reactivated and a new charter established as Buck Thompson-Rufus Hill American Legion Post 68.

“Rufus Hill, a longtime Childersburg resident, Korean War veteran and Alabama National Guard retiree, touched the lives of many area residents and influenced the course of young soldiers and veterans during and after the years of his service,” Teel said. “His name has been added to the re-established charter.”

Teel said combining the past and present and looking to the future, the post now meets the second Monday of each month at 6 p.m. at the senior center behind the R.S. Limbaugh Community Center.

“Continuing to serve and help veterans with V.A. claims and benefits, serving the community, God and country have been and continue to be the life of the American Legion,” he said. “We desire to be family-oriented, community-minded, and to include the ladies auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion. All veterans are welcome, and membership is offered to veterans who served during a time of war."

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