A local veterans organization celebrated their birthday on Tuesday.

A local veterans organization celebrated their birthday on Tuesday.

The Clyde R. Burdick Post 163 of the American Legion, Neosho, celebrated 99 years of existence during the meeting at the New-Mac Community Room on Highway 86. Along with the Legion, members of the post auxiliary provided refreshments to a packed house of veterans, their families and prospective members.

The Legion in Neosho was established on March 15, 1919.

"It is nice, 99 years is quite a feat, but that just means the 100th next year, they (national American Legion) are going to push everybody to have a really big celebration," said post commander and Vietnam veteran Bill Doubek.

History of the national American Legion

"It was right after World War I had ended, Teddy Roosevelt and two other officers and some enlisted men gathered (in France)," he said. "They didn't want their comradeship, their fellowship to come to an end. They thought, 'how can we maintain this, how can we continue to help our country,' and they said, 'let's form an organization. Let's form a service organization and they set up what they called 'St. Louis Caucus,' just a couple of months later."

Doubek said the Paris Caucus was May 15-17, 1919. Then they met two months later again in St. Louis, set up the organization. Then they got the Congregational charter in September 1919. Then the first founding convention was in November.

Asked how important the American Legion is for Neosho, Doubek said, "when you consider that we are a little town, a country kind of post, to be that old. I lived in St. Louis for almost 20 years and was a member there, and the post that I belonged to in St. Louis city, is gone, they turned in their charter and folded it up. Yet, here we are and we keep on going, a 104 percent membership. We have 106 members. It is exciting that we are able to do that."

Currently, there are 44,000 Legion members in the state of Missouri.

Doubek encourages veterans to join the American Legion Post 163.

"We meet the second Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m., here at the New-Mac Community Room," he said. "Ninety-nine years is awesome, but 100 is going to be big."