Bracken Post #382 almost a Century Strong
by Cate Murway
Perhaps you have taken notice that many social structures are quickly disintegrating and that there are fewer and fewer who are involving themselves in civic and community life. These changes have altered the way we have come to live.
The fact that the Robert W. Bracken American Legion Post #382 just celebrated at its 95th birthday party is quite an accomplishment. Buffet dinner and a birthday cake were enjoyed by the legion members and their friends, baseball coaches, the ladies auxiliary, and members of the Drum & Bugle Corps.
This Post has been active for 95 years while other clubs and organizations are disappearing and our social connectedness is diminishing.
A network of relationships is an asset, the accumulation of which could be dubbed "social capital", the value of people dealing with people.
The Robert W. Bracken American Legion Post #382 belongs to the people it serves and the communities in which it thrives.
The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic, mutual-help, wartime veterans’ organization. It is committed to mentoring youth and the sponsorship of wholesome programs in their communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security, and a continued devotion to its fellow service members and veterans, assistance that may include food, shelter or medical attention for them or their families.
Meeting the continuing needs of our veterans should be the concern of every American who values his or her freedom.
The American Legion Auxiliary is the largest patriotic women’s service organization in the world. The Bracken Post President Sharon Lalli coordinates many activities; among them is the “Poppy Appeal” fundraiser. The poppy is widely recognized as a symbol of remembrance, and by wearing this colorful red crepe memorial paper flower we can raise awareness and demonstrate our gratitude to those who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy. These petals of paper bound together for veterans by veterans, remind America each year that the men and women who have served and died for their country deserve to be remembered. Wear the poppy as a tribute to the fallen!
. . . the blood of heroes never dies
But lends a luster to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders' Fields.
The Robert W. Bracken Post # 382 formed September 28, 1919 with just 62 ex-servicemen members. It is a supportive group, as well as a social club and a type of extended family for former service men and women. Their first Commander was Franklin “Gilkey” Gilkeson, Esq. One of the signers of the original charter was the 1922-23 Commander/ Finance Officer, Jacob C. Schmidt, Jr., the grandfather of Horace P. Schmidt, Jr., proprietor of Schmidt’s Flowers. The Post’s official monthly publication was “The Cootie”. In addition to organizing commemorative events, such as Memorial Day and Flag Day, and marching in the Borough parades, manning a booth on Bristol Day and other volunteer activities, Legion members are active in U.S. politics and support the veterans at senior centers and senior groups.
The primary political activity is lobbying for the interests of veterans that include support for veterans’ benefits such as pensions and the Veterans Affairs hospital system.
Under Commander, Nicholas James Lalli, BHS ’61, they also raise and donate Scholarship funds to BHS, sponsor the American Legion Baseball team that competes in a league of other American legion teams, and they present Citizenship citations and a medal to deserving 8th graders.
The name Bracken is a memorial to a BHS grad, 26-year-old Private Robert W. Bracken, a member of Company “C”, 15th Machine Gun Battalion. He was the first Bristol WWI casualty, killed in the Battle of Saint Mihiel, France in 1918. This battle marked the first use of the terms "D-Day" and "H-Hour" by the Americans.
The veterans meet the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month at 7:00 P.M. in the lower level of the St. Ann Athletic Association at 509 Wood Street. The original brick American Legion Hall building was located on Radcliffe Street across from the library but was razed in 1975.
If you are currently on active duty, honorably serving the United States, anywhere in the world, or have served honorably during any of the eligible war eras, you are invited to become a member of The American Legion. Dues are $23.00 a year.
Robert W. Bracken Post, # 382
P.O. Box 2185
Bristol Borough, PA 19007
Senior vice commander/ former adjuvant Arthur John Younglove is determined to “keep in the public eye what veterans have done defending our freedoms.”
Art is an Army veteran from the Vietnam era. He enlisted and worked across from the capitol building in Detroit and Lansing, MI as a special agent in charge of Army intelligence investigating candidates’ security backgrounds for clearances from 1961-64. He is retired from Rohm & Haas and currently teaches social studies, science, and literary arts in the Mount Holly Middle School and he coaches the girls’ softball team.
Art was awarded with an American Legion Citizenship certificate and a medal in the 8th grade for his “courage and honesty”. As a youth, he delivered the daily Philadelphia Bulletin throughout the 3rd ward and Buckley Street and devoted his summers to baseball and swimming in the canal and the Delaware River. His fond memories include the Mill Street sponsored “Animal Parade” when he won the “smallest animal” award for his kitten and the 1st prize was a pair of pajamas.
He always “loved history” and he is determined to preserve the irreplaceable with hope, faith and a focus. His attention is now concentrated on “drumming” up the former Bracken Drum & Bugle Cavaliers for its 90th Anniversary Celebration.
The corps of cadets was originally created and sponsored as a Boy Scout troop of the Bristol Presbyterian Church by its first director, Harold Bolton before it became affiliated and sponsored by the Robert W. Bracken American Legion Post. The Bracken Cavaliers, the "First Jr. Drum and Bugle Corps in the U.S.A" was formed under the leadership of Monroe Street resident, Harry Burbank in 1924. They have carried on in proud tradition for nearly 90 years and they were the PA Champions in 1924, 1925, 1932- 1937, 1952, 1953, 1960 and 1961. Chaplain Robert J. Hems, father of the late Post #382 historian Cpl. Fred B. Hems, Sr., was the Secretary of the Bugle Corps.
The cadets sold chocolate bars in Bristol Borough and Bristol Township to earn money for uniforms and equipment. The girls were primarily color guards, carrying flags and sabres.
In February, 1961, led by Captain Valerie [Leighton] Ryan and Co-captain Harriet [Girton] Jenkins, they won two competitions for all-girl color guards, one in Atlantic City and the other in Penns Grove, N.J.
Art Younglove played the French horn bugle back in the day, while a member of the Drum and Bugle Corps from 1955-1961. When they were about to disband, he started a new group with 150+ members.
He is actively looking to identify members of the Bracken Cadets for the 90th Anniversary Celebration scheduled for Historic Bristol Day weekend this October and is searching for any Bracken memorabilia.
Did you march?
13 Roselyn Drive
Delran, NJ 08075
Recommend a “Spotlight”. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org