American Legion Hall in Ilwaco

World War I veterans who returned to the Long Beach Peninsula built the American Legion Hall, which still stands in Ilwaco.

ILWACO — The Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum is hosting the exhibit “Coming Home: WWI and the American Legion Centennial.” This special exhibition opens on Saturday, May 18, with an Armed Forces Day celebration organized by the Don R. Grable Post #48, Ilwaco. The exhibition will be on view until July 6.

The final battles of World War I were hard-fought and bloody. Their legacy was felt beyond Europe and into communities across the world including Ilwaco and the Long Beach Peninsula. One of the largest battles to end the war was the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, fought from Sept. 26, 1918 until the Armistice of Nov. 11, 1918, a total of 47 days. Ilwaco resident Don R. Grable was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Argonne. He was the only resident of the Long Beach Peninsula to die in WWI.

After the Armistice, celebrations were held to mark the end of the Great War and soldiers returned to the U.S. to restart their lives. They were bonded by their service but there were few opportunities for them to share their experiences. Early in 1919, a group of officers who served in the American Expeditionary Forces proposed an organization to help improve troop morale and their transition back to civilian life. An organizational meeting took place in Paris in March 1919. From this the American Legion was formed. The American Legion is a patriotic veteran’s organization chartered by Congress in 1919. Its focus continues to be service to veterans, service members and communities.

When a group of Long Beach Peninsula World War I veterans got together to form Legion Post #48, there could be only one name for it — Don R. Grable. The post was chartered Oct. 2, 1919, with 15 charter members. Currently there are about 100 post members and 30 members of the auxiliary.

“Coming Home: WWI and the American Legion Centennial” shares the stories of those who served and returned to the Peninsula. The exhibition will explore the lives and past-times of the returning veterans and the organizations that were formed to help them reintegrate with their community. This special exhibition opens on Saturday, May 18, with an Armed Forces Day celebration organized by the Don R. Grable Post #48, Ilwaco.

The Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum is located at 115 SE Lake Street in Ilwaco. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free on Thursdays thanks to the Port of Ilwaco. For more information please call 360-642-3446 or visit columbiapacificheritagemuseum. org.

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