Series that features tenants of the Clear Lake Area Community Center
“Honor Those Who care for Us”
By Bob Buhr (Post Adjutant, Wiley Davis American Legion Post No. 108) and Muriel Nelson
The American Legion, the oldest and largest wartime veterans’ organization, was formed by thousands of U.S. World War I Veterans in Paris, France in March of 1919. The Wiley Davis American Legion Post No. 108 in Clear Lake was chartered in September of that same year. Clear Lake’s post is one of over 500 in Wisconsin and 12,875 in the United States. The post was named after Wiley Davis, a local World War I veteran who was killed in action.
Membership includes those who served in the military during wartime or who served on active duty since December 7, 1941, whether or not it was wartime.
The American Legion family encompasses four groups: The American Legion, whose membership includes the men and women who meet the above membership criteria; the Sons of the American Legion (S.A.L.), whose members are male descendants of American Legion members (sons, grandsons, and great grandsons); the American Legion Auxiliary includes male and female spouses, grandmothers, mothers, sisters and female descendants of Legionnaires; and last, the American Legion Riders, comprised of members who are also bikers and whose primary goal is to raise money for the American Legion Legacy Fund, a fund to raise scholarship money for the children of those that have died in combat. Clear Lake Legionnaires are eligible to join the Polk County Chapter of the American Legion Riders as there is not a Riders group attached directly to the Post. These four groups work hand in hand to achieve their organizational goals.
The American Legion was founded on four pillars: Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation, National Security, Americanism, and Children & Youth. Each of these pillars encompasses a variety of programs. Many of these programs, especially those for children and youth, are evident in our community. One familiar endeavor is sending boys to Badgers Boys State, a 6-day conference where boys, who are entering their last year of high school, join to form the “51st” state and perform all the main functions of city, county, and state government. Each year the local post usually sends one or two boys from each Clear Lake and Clayton.
The post from Clear Lake also works with both the Clear Lake and Clayton High Schools on the “American Legion Americanism and Government Scholarship Test Program”. This test, open to high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors, tests their knowledge on citizenship and all levels of government. Students compete statewide for Department of Wisconsin American Legion scholarships totaling $14,300. Post No. 108 also awards “High Achievement Awards” to students from Clear Lake and Clayton High Schools who may not have qualified for a state scholarship but nevertheless, achieved impressive scores.
The Clear Lake American Legion, the S.A.L., and the Auxiliary each provide scholarships every year to graduating high school seniors from Clear Lake and Clayton to help advance their education.
Questions regarding any American Legion programs for youth should be directed to Bob Buhr, Children and Youth Chair, Wiley Davis American Legion Post 108.
On the local level, the post and S.A.L. provide monetary donations to first responders (the Clear Lake Fire Department and the Clear Lake EMS), local schools, the Clear Lake Library, the Lifeline Food Pantry, Civic and Commerce events, and other groups working with children and veterans in the community. The post has also provided direct assistance to veterans and their families in need. The local American Legion works closely with the Polk County Veterans Service Offices to help local veterans access state and federal VA benefits. The post supports the State and National Legion in advocating for a strong national defense, Americanism, and for benefits to help veterans’ rehabilitation and their transition to civilian life.
Members of the Clear Lake American Legion family join with the Clear Lake Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Veterans Memorial to provide services on Memorial Day. In addition to the meaningful service at the Clear Lake Cemetery, honor guards are dispatched to every cemetery in the area to recognize all veterans, no matter where their final resting place is in our extended community. Honor guards are also made available for veteran burials upon request. The Legion and the VFW work together assisting at Veterans’ Day Programs at both the Clear Lake and Clayton schools and jointly provide a color guard to lead the parade each year at Clear Lake Days.
The legion supports the local community in many other ways too. When an American Legion member dies, that veteran is honored by a memorial usually given to the local library. The legion and S.A.L. donate to Christmas for Children put on each year by the United Methodist Church. The Legion and the S.A.L. also donate money each year to help pay for the fireworks on New Year Eve. The Legion participates in “Trunk or Treat” on Halloween. Name a community event and one of the groups within the American Legion family is probably involved.
The Legion and S.A.L. holds “brat stands” during the summer months and works their hamburger stand during Clear Lake Days. Community support for these events is always appreciated because the money raised not only supports their Children and Youth programs but also enables the post to carry out other activities to help strengthen our community.
Many of us remember when Clear Lake’s American Legion post was located at 284 Golf Drive. At first it was a one-room building; later the old Pineville school was moved to that location and attached to the post. It continued in this formation for many years. Over the years, there was sufficient space to hold community events including Veterans’ Day dinners and programs and to host District and County Legion Meetings. In the past, the Legion Building was used for several community organizations, such as the Clear Lake Senior Center with meals served to seniors, the Lutheran Church Quilters, the Boy Scouts, AA Meetings, and a storage and work area for the Methodist Church’s Annual Christmas for Children.
In 2015, the repairs needed for the building were formidable. The post decided to move to Suite 108 of the Clear Lake Area Community Center as of May 2015. The Legion, the S.A.L., and Auxiliary, continue to meet monthly at 6 PM on the 4th Monday of the month.
Note – Other military organizations who are CLACC tenants will be featured in the future.