In a mostly empty hall on Friday morning, one table of veterans represents half the active members at Moline American Legion Post 246.
“The Korean War vets are starting to get tired,” said Post Commander John Gosney, 34, and Iraqui War veteran. “They’re starting to get old.”
Just over 1% of the post’s 900 members actively participate these days.
“We’re doing everything we can to keep this beautiful post alive,” Gosney said.
Post 246 dates back to the end of World War I, but it’s days may be numbered. Active membership continues to decline, and there are money problems. Survivors might not be able to keep it open much longer.
“That would be a very dark day for Moline,” Gosney said.
In recent months, the post hosted a pancake breakfast for presidential candidate Mitt Romney. It welcomed a job fair for returning veterans, and it even presented awards to its top baseball team.
“We’re like any organization,” Gosney continued. “We’re here to better our community. We’re here to support our veterans.”
A New Year’s Eve event at the post will be critical. If it goes well, it just might buy them some time.
They hope that plans for a dinner-dance won’t be the swan song for Post 246.
“This is a building that represents veterans,” said Carl Granata, vice commander. “We say, thank you. We say, this is your house.”
A house that won’t be a home without younger veterans ready to revive it.
“It stands for so many great things,” Gosney said. “I could not imagine a day that this building is not open as the Moline American Legion.”
Tickets for the New Year’s Eve dinner dance are available at Post 246, 1623 15th Street, Moline. Tickets cost $15 per couple in advance and $10 per person.
“I don’t know of many veterans who do give up,” Granata concluded. “That’s what Americans are known for — we don’t give up.”