There is probably no place in the country more reminiscent of World War I or more directly connected with the vast and varied activities of our army and navy in fighting its battles during that late conflict than the City of Newport News. So when the Armistice was signed and demobilization completed it was natural that in such a fertile field there should start to grow a movement to keep alive the spirit of comradeship among the ex-service men and women and the high ideals for which they had fought. Many who had been stationed in camps and posts in this vicinity and some who disembarked and were demobilized here lingered, and with our own returned "native sons and daughters" helped to form the nucleus of Braxton-Perkins Post No.25, American Legion.
It was in August, 1919, that Fred H. Skinner, a popular young lawyer who served as captain of the 119th Infantry, enlisted the assistance of several ex-service men and, securing the necessary signatures, applied for a charter, which was granted August 25th. The first and organization meeting was held in the Corporation Court room in the City Hall September 19th, and temporary officers elected to serve until January 1, 1920. This first group of officers included Messrs. Stanley Wilson, chairman; C. C. Moore, vice-chairman; Lewis T. Jester, secretary, and R. B. Thompson, treasurer.
Shortly afterwards arrangements were made with the War Camp Community Service to use their building for meeting purposes and a small room as an office for executive and committee meetings. Later this building, a very commodious one and excellently suited for the purpose, was purchased by the Post from the War Camp Community Service, after the latter organization had ceased to function here.
At the beginning of the year 1920, Braxton-Perkins Post started its first year of real activity and has steadily grown in prestige and influence until it has come to occupy a very high position among the city's civic organizations, and through its social gatherings and quasi-civic enterprises has made itself a distinct influence in the community. Several dances and smokers were given and during the summer months moonlight excursions were given to Chesapeake Bay. Of course, Decoration Day, Fourth of July, and Armistice Day were fittingly observed by the Post, parades being organized and speakers provided. One of the outstanding events of this year was the visit of General John J. Pershing, whom the Post had as its guest to address the Legion in the spring of this year.
In June of 1923, Home-Coming Week was celebrated through a combination of all civic organizations, Braxton-Perkins Post assuming a leading part in carrying the event through successfully. Through the Post military parades were organized and demonstrations held. The celebration lasted a full week and the large part played by the American Legion helped make it a great success.
One of the accomplishments of the Post for the year was the Tree Planting Campaign. The campaign resulted in the planting of over fifteen hundred shade trees in the city. Besides helping greatly to beautify the city and give it a uniformity of shade trees, the campaign netted the American Legion Post a nice profit for their treasury.
Besides holding regular weekly dances, fostering various entertainments and bazaars and taking a prominent part in all civic movements, the club has done many other notable works. A kindergarten for children of foreign-born parentage is maintained in the building. Financial aid has been furnished many ex-service men until they could get on their feet again. It has helped the sick and war-wounded; it furnishes free child's health clinic quarters for the Associated Charities and the Red Cross. The National Guard Machine Gun Company and Naval Reserve have headquarters in the American Legion building. Braxton-Perkins Post has furnished many persons with food, clothing, fuel and transportation. Employment has been found, claims adjusted, hospitalization arranged and military funerals given to all deceased ex-service men whether Legion members or not, floral tributes being sent for all members.
Braxton-Perkins Post was named in honor of two local men who died "Over There" doing their "bit." Elliott Muse Braxton won his commission as second lieutenant and was killed in action in the Meuse-Argonne fighting. Lieutenant Pryor Richard Perkins was a member of the Air Service, and met death when his plane fell on the Argonne front. More information about Lieutenant Perkins may be found HERE.
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