BARRE — The American Legion Auxiliary is celebrating its 100th anniversary and those in Barre did so with gratitude — and a little bit of Elvis.
The event, part of the weekend’s slate of Veterans Day events, was held at the Legion’s Barre Unit #10 on North Main Street.
State Auxiliary President Corrinna Colson read a proclamation from Barre Mayor Lucas Herring on behalf of the city. The proclamation recognized the organization on its centennial and those that serve in it, saying they are dedicated to upholding the ideas of freedom and democracy.
Colson said she joined the Auxiliary under her father, Eric. She said her father served in the Vietnam War and died on Veterans Day in 2010. She said about six months before he died he became fully involved in the American Legion.
Tristan Southworth, of West Danville, was killed in action in Afghanistan in August 2010. Colson said it was 90 degrees outside during Southworth’s funeral, and her father, a diabetic, stood in line outside for the ceremony.
Colson said a reporter approached her father and asked him whether he knew Southworth.
“He said, ‘No, I did not know him. But he served our country. He died in the line of duty. I will stand here until I drop so I can go in there and pay my respects to him.’ That’s who my father was,” she said.
After her father died, Colson said, the Legion put on a service in his honor, and that’s when it clicked to her that services like that were what were important to her father. She said she was lost after losing her father and joining the Auxiliary has helped her heal.
“I’ve been serving veterans ever since, and it’s been the most remarkable experience of my life,” she said.
Pat Sherman, of Duxbury, has been a member of the Auxiliary for 48 years, nearly half of its lifetime.
Sherman said she loves volunteering. She said when she was a teenager she thought about entering the military herself because she saw the benefits of it, such as a steady paycheck.
Sherman joined the Auxiliary under her late brother Richard Atwood, who served in the Army for eight years. She served in multiple roles for the Auxiliary, including being the vice chairperson of membership for the national auxiliary. Sherman said as part of her duties she’s traveled around the country and saw Presidents George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. She said at age 75, it’s great to see so many people continuing to support the Legion and the Auxiliary.
The event included a performance by Mark Shelton, an Elvis tribute singer. Shelton, of Derby, served in the Army as a military police officer from 1980 to 1986. He said it’s an honor to serve those at the Legion and the Auxiliary, saying honoring the Auxiliary is “serving the servers.”
“When it comes to who we are as citizens, who we are as people, service is what we should do. It doesn’t simply have to be in the military, which is a great thing to do and I think people should, but serving the community any time they call,” he said.
Proceeds from tickets sold for Sunday’s event went toward Colson’s project. She said every state president has to have a project and hers is working with Honor Flight New England. Colson said she’s raising money to send World War II and Korean War veterans to Washington, D.C., so they can visit the war memorials there.