For 100 years, the Horace Orr Post 29 of the American Legion in Marietta has been providing services to American veterans.
The post is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its founding this weekend with events for members and the public, including a party with live music and food.
The American Legion as a whole also celebrated its 100th birthday this year. It was founded months before Post 29, in March 1919.
The celebration starts Friday night with a dance for members of the legion family and their guests from 7 to 11 p.m.
Saturday will host a variety of patriotic events for the whole family, including performances by two bands — the Walker High School band and a band made up of members from the 116th U.S. Army Band, stationed at the Georgia Army National Guard Center in Marietta. Food will be provided by Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q, and there will be activities for children including face painting and bouncy houses. Saturday’s event will last from noon to 5 p.m.
On Sunday, the organization’s actual birthday, the post will host a more formal program for legion members and invited guests, where dignitaries including Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, are scheduled to give remarks.
Cobb Commission Chairman Mike Boyce will also be in attendance. Boyce, a Marine, is also a legionnaire at the post.
“It’s one of those cornerstones of our community that we’re very blessed to have,” he said. “Like all great veteran organizations, they’re committed to ensuring the legacy of the sacrifice that the vets have made for country is never forgotten. … They are an active, vibrant organization that supports vets, both active duty and otherwise through a variety of programs … and it’s a fellowship. They have social programs to get together and talk about things.”
Post 29 Commander Walt Cusick said the post’s history is long and fascinating.
It was originally chartered as Black Jack Post 29, but its name was changed in 1922 in honor of Sgt. William Horace Orr, the first Marietta native to be killed in World War I.
For the first few decades, the legionnaires would meet in various spots around town, such as churches and the courthouse. In 1950, the post finally moved into its current spot on Gresham Avenue between Roswell Street Baptist Church and the Big Chicken.
In the early years, the post had trouble attracting new members.
“We actually have a membership numbers going back the 1920s,” he said. “One year, it’d be 200, 300, 400. In the Depression era, they got real close to losing the charter.”
But under the leadership of its various elected commanders over the past century, the post has steadily grown to become the largest American Legion Post in the state of Georgia with about 1,300 members. It has also been recognized as the “Best Post” in the state for two years in a row.
Last year, Post 29 added 167 new members, and this year the total is already over 60.
Cusick said that’s due to a number of factors. The fact that Cobb has a large population of veterans doesn’t hurt, he said, but the post has also made concerted efforts to recruit younger vets, those who served in the Gulf War, Iraq or Afghanistan.
About a dozen vets hung out at the post’s bar, sipping drinks and swapping stories Sunday afternoon, but Cusick said the drinks are not the real draw. He said many people join after getting out of the military and spending some time in the civilian world.
“There’s nowhere you can find a cheaper drink for ten miles around, but it’s more than that,” he said. “There’s stuff for your kids. There’s stuff for your family. … If you want to give back to your community, there’s a chance to do it.”
Post 29 hosts many community events, including a charity golf tournament and 5K. They are also involved with local schools, scouts and programs to help vets get back on their feet.