The Mott American Legion Post celebrated its 100th anniversary Monday.
By Brad Mosher
It was a moveable feast for the members of the Taylor-Skarvedt Post 71, their relatives and other members of the Mott and Regent communities.
Memorial Day is marked in some places by speeches, parades and a holiday.
It is still a holiday.
There were speeches, but in addition, there were more than 150 people attending the event at Mott-Regent High School. They listened to a former post commander recount the post history, then walked to the edge of the Cannonball River to release a wreath into the water, then moved to the local cemetery for a final tribute.
That was all on a cold and blustery day.
According to Kevin Carvell, a former commander of the post who lives near Mott, the American Legion and the state of North Dakota have a lot in common when it comes to the legion.
“This in the 100th anniversary of the American Legion… nationally. Many of the posts were formed almost at the same time. As the national one, so Mott’s post is also 100 years old,” he explained.
When he addressed the people attending the event at the high school, Carvell said he focused mostly on Mott’s history.
In addition, he announced that the post will soon be adding a name to the monument in Legion Park.
“It lists the names of all the men from this community who died while in the military. A guy who lived between here (Mott) and Regent was killed just days before World War I ended. “He is buried in France. His name is Henry Pacholl.
“He was killed in the last 10 days of the war.”
When it first started, the American Legion grew quickly in North Dakota, according to Carvell.
“Within the first year, there were 200 American Legion posts organized in North Dakota. There were 11,000 statewide members,” he explained.
Carvell also discussed the eventual decline in the legion membership.
“The peak for the American Legion in North Dakota was in the mid-1970s,” he said. “North Dakota had 36,000 members. Now it has 12,000,” he said.
Carvell cited the impact that veterans have made on the communities and all of the other things the American Legion has done for the veterans.
“Over the years, there has been some ups and downs at the post in Mott.”
The post has had two state-wide former commanders who called Mott or New England home.
“Dr. Thorlief Stangbye served as the state commander in 1943 and 1944. Then we have a farmer from north of Burt, Sebastian Roll, who served in 2002 and 2003,” he explained.
The program Monday was a familiar one. After starting at the school, the group when to the river then went to the Mott cemetery north of the city.
“This is the way we have done it for the last 100 years. It has been the same. The ceremony could have been replicated in 1920, and the people in 1920 would have been entirely comfortable with it… and vice versa.
“We start the gathering at the high school gymnasium and then we walk across the street to the riverbank and a wreath is thrown into the Cannonball River. Then there is three volleys of gunfire to honor those who died at sea. Then we proceed to the cemetery where we have again three volleys of gunfire and a prayer.
“At all three places, taps is blown,” Carvell explained.
“We have done it that way virtually for 100 years.”
Some things have changed over the years. “In the old days, they used to march up to the cemetery and there was a band. In those old days, a lot of the veterans were young and now they’re older. We have some young guys in the unit but a lot of us are in the 70s,” he explained.
The post had 14 members in for the event, serving as flagbearers, commanders and seven tasked as shooters. “We fire three volleys at the river and three at the cemetery,” he said.
New England Anton Ulijohn Post 66
More than 70 people attended the Memorial Day observance at the Memorial Hall in New England, with dozens flags marking most of the street in the center of town.
A member of the post, Edward Dick of Dickinson, was the guest speaker.
“We were lucky. It was kind of drizzling earlier in the morning. By the time we finished the inside service and went outside, it had quit raining. So, we lucked out there,” John Bohlman said.
“We were there to honor the dead and the fallen,” he added.
The post also placed flags on the grave sites of veterans at the local cemeteries north of the city – Our Redeemer’s Lutheran, St. Mary’s Catholic and the New England cemeteries.