Mercer County Post 1571 celebrates 75 years

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record
A 1961 fire that completely devastated the Mercer County VFW Hall.

The post and auxiliary members from Mercer County VFW Post 1571, 106 SW 3rd Ave., Aledo, invite the public to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the post's founding with a meal of roast beef or ham on Saturday, Nov. 20 starting at 5:30 p.m. A short program will follow the meal. Please call the post at (309) 582-7055 to make a reservation.

History

Mercer County Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1571 was formed on Nov. 26, 1935, with 31 charter members. The first commander was Donald Martin. Incorporators were Fred Clauson, Jim Allen and Richard Allen. The three trustees were Fred Clawson, Scott Tarry and Earl Doonan. Meetings were held in St. Catherine's Hall.

In December 1944 the members decided to set aside $70 to start an equipment fund. They held fish frys at the Clyde Wagner farm in New Boston.

In February 1946 a committee was formed with the American Legion to raise funds, plan and select a proper site for a Veterans Memorial building. This building would be sponsored jointly by both organizations.

A lot was purchased for $1,500 in March 1949. In the fall of 1949 the post started with $7,500 in the bank and borrowed $8,500 in June of the following year. A building was constructed for $27,500 and included a four-lane bowling alley in the basement of the south side. In 1959 everything was paid off and they burned the mortgage - a joyous occasion for all members.

March 6, 1961 the building burned to the ground, due to a malfunction in the bowling alley. A meeting was held right away on March 12 to decide the post's next step. It was decided to build on the same foundation and make the building available to the community. There were also many volunteers who helped with the rebuilding. It was available by November 1961 - built for approximately $50,000 with lots of volunteers working many nights and weekends.

This is the building that stands today, with beautiful wooden beams enjoyed by all. Commander at the time was Don Basala. Members of the building committee were Earl Doonan, Bob Leng, Fred Clawson and Abe Leng. These men are owed a great debt of gratitude.

In October 1965 the post paid off the note on the present building.

The VFW is involved in many community programs, as well as with the Illinois State VFW. Some of the programs are Veterans Assistance, Americanism, Patriotism, Voice of Democracy, Community Service, National Home, Poppy sales, Christmas Seals, Christmas baskets, Operation Uplink, safety and youth activities, Quincy Soldiers and Sailors Home.

Both the post and auxiliary provide a presence in schools, at parades, funerals and teaching the public about the flag.

A new VFW Post 1571 was completed in November 1961.