The Moline American Legion will be closing its hall on 15th Street this summer.
Post 246 Commander John Gosney said the rough winter and a hard economy have forced the Legion to decide to close its doors on June 2, 2014. Building maintenance costs are up, people are booking fewer parties at the hall, and bar attendance is down.
“Ultimately, Mother Nature has said, ‘We’re going to be kind of hard on you this year,’ and we just haven’t been able to keep up,” said Gosney.
World War II veterans opened the 15th Street American Legion hall in 1954. Over the past six decades, Post 246 has hosted job fairs for returning veterans, welcome home ceremonies for its championship-winning baseball team, and even a pancake breakfast for presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
In the past two years, though, Post 246 has also seen a 23 percent decrease in membership. There are currently 704 active members, down from 911 in 2012.
As more World War II, Korean, and Vietnam veterans pass away, the Moline Legion must rely on younger veterans to comprise its membership — an often difficult reality.
“They have a wife, they have small children, and they’re working second, third shift. It makes it very hard for them to be active in the Legion,” said Gosney.
Gosney and other Post 246 members, though, insist that the hall’s closure is not the end of the Moline American Legion. The Post’s 1919 charter will be taken off the wall, but it won’t leave the city of Moline. Meetings will continue at a new, yet-to-be-determined location.
“The building doesn’t make the legion. The bar doesn’t make the legion. What makes the legion is the legionnaires and the veterans,” said Gosney. “You know, when times are tough, the American veteran will stand up, and we’ll fight. So, this isn’t over by no means.”
The current hall will be put up for sale this summer, and the Post is also considering leasing or buying another, smaller building.
Those with questions are invited to call the Post home at 309-762-1126.