American Legion’s community service history, founding of SGFD; upcoming Veterans Day tribute

Lambert Jensen, American Legion Post 90 Honor Guard member, St. George, Utah, Nov. 11, 2012 | Photo courtesy of Pamala Englert

ST. GEORGE – The American Legion Lester Keate – Post 90 has a long-standing tradition of honoring the United States military and dedication to community service. On Monday, citizens can join them in showing their support for soldiers past and present at the Veterans Day parade and concert.

Organization history

Post 90 is the oldest veterans’ service organization in Utah and the largest in Washington County. For more than three-quarters of a century, its members have lent their time, skills and passion for lifelong service to many vital community projects.

WWII veterans and American Legion Post 90 members, St. George, Utah, Nov. 11, 2012 | Photo courtesy of Pamala Englert
WWII veterans and American Legion Post 90 members, St. George, Utah, Nov. 11, 2012 | Photo courtesy of Pamala Englert

Post Commander Bill Haynes served in the Navy for 10 years and joined the American Legion as a way to continue serving his community and country.

“We do this because we love our country and our veterans and we know, better than anyone else, what they deserve,” Haynes said. “But we also serve our community. We do it for everyone.”

The post’s namesake is Southern Utah native Daniel Lester Keate, who served in the Marines during World War I. He died in battle near Champagne, France, in 1918 at age 23 and is buried in the St. George City Cemetery.

Through fundraising events and donations, the post supports the Dixie High School junior ROTC – a youth military training corps that prepares young men and women for service, the Civil Air Patrol, the Veterans’ Coalition and the Veterans Re-connect Club, and sponsors a local American Legion youth baseball team. Additionally, the group was instrumental in the funding and development of the Southern Utah Veterans’ Home in Ivins.

Led by Foster Johnson, the post’s ritual team has performed military honors at more than 1,200 funerals over the past 15 years, often visiting several in the same day. Three members of the team, WWII veterans, are over age 90 yet still serve their duties faithfully. Every funeral is attended at the members’ own expense.

“The American Legion’s mission is to honor those who went before us, to support those who are still with us and to strengthen our nation by serving our communities,” Post Adjutant Ski Ingram said. “I have always been proud of my military service. Now that I’m retired, I have the time to use the training and experience from my military service to provide support to my fellow veterans and community.”

American Legion Post 90 Honor Guard members, St. George, Utah, Nov. 11, 2012 | Photo courtesy of Pamala Englert
American Legion Post 90 Honor Guard members, St. George, Utah, Nov. 11, 2012 | Photo courtesy of Pamala Englert

Post 90 also boasts an outstanding women’s auxiliary group, led by veteran Marti Bigbie, who organizes the distribution of Christmas care packages for overseas troops each year. During the holidays, Bigbie and her fellow servicewomen visit local veterans in assisted living facilities, many of whom have no family. Ellen Nathan, the wife of a veteran, oversees Utah’s Homes for Heroes program and is actively involved in raising money for those currently serving in the Armed Forces.

The post’s mission statement uses a widely known yet anonymous quote: “A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to the United States of America.”

“A veteran is a unique individual who voluntarily agreed to lay his life down for something bigger and better than himself,” Ingram said. “That’s why we need to honor veterans.”

Relationship with St. George

Though historical accounts vary, Post 90 is generally credited with founding the St. George Fire Department in 1936. They organized 23 volunteer members, raised money for the department’s first vehicle, a 1936 Studebaker fire engine, and allowed them to use their building, which is now SGFD Station No. 2 on Main Street.

Today, the relationship between SGFD and Post 90 is limited to the fire department’s participation in Veterans Day and other patriotic events, Chief Robert Stoker said.

On the other hand, the post and the City of St. George have grown closer over the past decade, mainly due to efforts by the post’s current administration. With the support of St. George Councilman and Mayor-elect Jon Pike, the city became an official sponsor of the American Legion’s Veterans Day spectacular last year.

The original 1936 Studebaker fire engine outside SGFD Station #2, St. George, Utah, undated | Photo courtesy of the City of St. George
The original 1936 Studebaker fire engine outside SGFD Station #2, St. George, Utah, undated | Photo courtesy of the City of St. George

Veterans Day event

On Monday, Post 90 and the city will jointly host the Veterans Day 2013 patriotic parade and musical concert.

The parade starts at 9 a.m. Running along Tabernacle Street from 200 West to 300 East, spectators can expect to see police and fire vehicles (including the 1936 Studebaker), military units, classic and antique cars, horses, school marching bands, elected officials and representatives from local service organizations and businesses, along with live music at the roundabout at Tabernacle and Main. Radio personalities Tim Porter and Buckner from 99.9 KONY Country will serve as announcers.

Many show their support by walking alongside the floats and vehicles, like Samuel Howe Wryouck, an 87-year-old Air Force veteran who flew 35 bombing missions over Germany during WWII. Though he relies on a walker, Wryouck looks forward to traveling the entire 11-block parade route every year.

“I’ve seen everyone from an 80-year-old with a wheelchair to a kid in a Boy Scout uniform saluting the flag as the parade passes by, and my heart just swells with pride,” Haynes said. “The true heroes are the ones who love this country, who are willing to stand up and say they do.”

The parade will be followed by “A Tribute in the Tabernacle” at noon, featuring entertainment from local favorites Brodie Perry, Mikalene, Tammy Houchen, Jadon Webster, Dick Barton, Brooklyn Blanchard, the Color Country Chorus and Tonaquint Intermediate School’s Show Choir, and an address by the parade’s Grand Marshal, Post 90 Sergeant at Arms Johnnie Johnson. As the program’s highlight, city, county and state representatives will personally thank local veterans from each branch of the Armed Forces, including reserves and National Guard, as their respective marches are played.

American Legion Post 90 members, St. George, Utah, Nov. 11, 2012 | Photo courtesy of Pamala Englert
American Legion Post 90 members, St. George, Utah, Nov. 11, 2012 | Photo courtesy of Pamala Englert

Last year’s concert packed the house; Ingram would like to repeat that accomplishment.

The theme of the event is “Freedom Isn’t Free.” Amid the day’s festivities, post members hope it will serve as a sobering reminder of the many sacrifices made by America’s servicemen and women and those who support them. From veterans and fallen soldiers to active duty personnel and their loved ones on the home front, the lives impacted by the military, past, present and future, are too many to count.

Veterans Day isn’t just about saying “hooray” for the Armed Forces and waving the red, white and blue; it’s a day of respect. A day to say a sincere “thank you” to a group of people who don’t hear it often enough.

“We feel it is very important that every citizen understands the truth of the statement ‘freedom isn’t free.’ Someone, at some time, paid for our freedom, all of us,” Ingram said. “This event and others like it show veterans and their families that we are thankful for their selfless service. It brings us together in the spirit of gratitude, to remind us of our love for our community and country.”

Event details and contact information

  • Date: Nov. 11
  • Time: 9 a.m. (parade), noon (concert)
  • Location: Tabernacle St. from 200 W to 300 E (parade), St. George Tabernacle, 18 South Main St. (concert)
  • Admission: Free
  • Contact: Ski Ingram – 435-313-2078
Event flyer
Event flyer

Now available from STGnews.com

St. George News App for Android®

St. George News App for iPhone®

Related posts

Email: avmorgan@stgnews.com
Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

Lambert Jensen, American Legion Post 90 Honor Guard member, St. George, Utah, Nov. 11, 2012 | Photo courtesy of Pamala Englert
Lambert Jensen, American Legion Post 90 Honor Guard member, St. George, Utah, Nov. 11, 2012 | Photo courtesy of Pamala Englert

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

14 Comments

  • Pamala Englert November 9, 2013 at 11:13 am

    Alexa,

    Outstanding story. Thank you so much to you, Joyce Kuzmanic and everybody at the St. George News for the numerous and genuine ways you honor all service members and veterans within our community.

  • Question November 9, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Veterans Day is a day to recognize the contributions of all veterans to our country. With that said, will this St George event just be another mormon church activity? Not all veterans who served our country are mormons; we appreciate the community recognition but just don’t want to be involved with a religion we don’t want to be a part of. Why can’t this end at the American Legion building?

    • starboss November 9, 2013 at 2:08 pm

      I would suppose, “Question”, that the Tabernacle has far better acoustics that better supports the musical numbers than the much smaller AL clubhouse. There is also the issue of seating capacity at the clubhouse and that, I suppose could be solved by banning LDS members so you wouldn’t have to associate with them. But then the price you pay is that the program performers who are LDS wouldn’t be able to attend and the program would only consist of The Grafton Philharmonic Kazoo Band playing “Your Prejudice Mocks What Veterans Fight For.”

    • Jeckyll November 9, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      Though the Tabernacle was built by the Mormons that settled the area and is still owned and maintained by the Mormon Church, The building has been used for many secular activities, as well and multi-cultural and non-denominational faith events. It is more a community center now than a place of worship in its use.

      • Question November 9, 2013 at 5:06 pm

        Was it last year’s event at the tabernacle where the discussion of accomplishments seemed to be mostly mormon church recognition stuff? Really, can’t we enjoy a National holiday without the mormon stuff constantly shoved down our throats? You could even have it at the Sunbowl, for there is plenty of seating and parking, and it’s right across the street from the American Legion. Get some more use out of the Sunbowl, too, before your city council levels it.

  • Pamala Englert November 9, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    For all those who are commenting on the nature of the ‘Tribute in the Tabernacle’ program, here is a link to last year’s program on Veterans Day, held in the historic Tabernacle building. The City of St. George, American Legion Lester Keate Post 90, Canyon Media and many community members and businesses, combine together; working very hard to make this a patriotic, memorable program and parade, for all those who defend our greatest blessing in freedom.

    Please don’t miss your opportunity to extend your gratitude to them and their families because of an assumption. You need only see the parade and program one time to know why veterans, troops and their families look forward to Veterans Day each year. Thank you.

    http://voddov.com/video/Veterans-Day-Program-2012-11-12

  • anonymous November 9, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    Being a veteran and a non Morman only living in St. George for about a year and a half I still don’t get involved in community activities because of the LDS malarkey getting shoved down my throat at the few events that I do attend. Sorry but anything tied to the LDS Church in any way, shape, or form I get very hesitant about even being near it for fear of getting more LDS malarkey shoved down my throat.

    • veteran November 10, 2013 at 8:29 am

      I served my country, which includes that part of freedom of religion. For me, that means freedom from religion. I’ve seen those radical islamic countries where religion controls every aspect of government and people’s lives. It’s frightening how closely St George with its religion dominated environment mirrors those regions.

  • Sgnative November 9, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    For all you questioning the tabernacle as a choice of venue I would also encourage you to learn about the “CROP walk”. That took place -i believe today- with many denominations and people coming together for a common cause as well.

  • rhoda November 10, 2013 at 5:11 am

    I don’t want to hear about mythical Mormon wars by mythical Mormon warriors and their other fairy tales.

  • Jason November 11, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Pretty sure you won’t be missed, but you will miss out. Have fun watching wheel of fortune while hiding from the mormons. Pretty sure they are not going to change local traditions because a few people worry about the mormons converting them at a community event. Really? Do you people even listen to what you sound like? I hear Colorado is looking for new residents.

    • rhoda November 12, 2013 at 9:02 am

      Nope. Doesn’t bother me to not partake in the mormon sanctioned crapola. You ought to get out from beneath the mormon church umbrella, outta the mormon church bubble, whatever, and see the whole world out there. Quit inviting me to your church crap. I don’t want it. Why don’t you do something that doesn’t require the blessing of your controlling church?

      • Zeke November 12, 2013 at 10:24 am

        How did your religious comments get all stirred up in a story about Veterans Day? Seems like there is not one single story on STG News that doesn’t garnish someones unintelligent opinion about religion. Who cares what you think about Mormons. You “are” in Utah by the way. Mormons fled the midwest due to persecution and murder at the hands of intolerant angry ignorant people. They are not going anywhere. Wouldn’t hurt to crack open a bible or visit a church and learn about Christ-like attributes. Unless of course you attend one of those trendy new atheist churches. But even they are “preaching” goodness and tolerance.

  • nationalsecurityguard June 17, 2016 at 5:43 am

    Led by Foster Johnson, the post’s ritual team has performed military honors at more than 1,200 funerals over the past 15 years, often visiting several in the same day. Three members of the team, WWII veterans, are over age 90 yet still serve their duties faithfully. Every funeral is attended at the members’ own expense. …
    Ed. ellipsis.

Leave a Reply