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American Legion Auxiliary, Hayes-Velhage Unit 96 of West Hartford Celebrates Centennial Year

From left: Elaine Kotler, State Sen. Derek Slap, Jeanne Berry, Jenn McLeod. American Legion Auxiliary, Hayes-Velhage Unit 96

The American Legion Auxiliary for West Hartford’s Post 96 held a 100th anniversary celebration of its founding this month.

Wreath marking 100th anniversary. Courtesy of American Legion Auxiliary, Hayes-Velhage Unit 96


American Legion Auxiliary, Hayes-Velhage Unit 96, celebrated their Centennial at Birdie Lounge in West Hartford on Saturday March 9, 2024.

Unit President Jenn McLeod welcomed members and guests, during her opening remarks of the program. Jeanne Berry, senior vice president gave the Invocation and Elaine Kotler, junior vice president led the Pledge of Allegiance.  Members of ALA Department of Connecticut and American Legion Post 96 members joined in the celebration.

From left: Elaine Kotler, Renee McCue, Jeanne Berry, and Jenn McLeod. American Legion Auxiliary, Hayes-Velhage Unit 96

American Legion Post 96 Commander Heidi-Anne Mooney lauded the Unit for their support of the Post and commended them on their continuous dedication and commitment to veterans, military, and the community.

The American Legion Auxiliary National Organization was founded in 1919 during The American Legion’s first National Convention.  Shortly afterwards, The American Legion Hayes-Velhage Post 96 was formed. Post 96 was named after two symbolic casualties of the 1917 Great War, Waldo C. Hayes and Francis B. Velhage, both from West Hartford.

Junior Vice President Elaine Kotler. American Legion Auxiliary, Hayes-Velhage Unit 96

With the Mission to support the American Legion, to serve and honor veterans, military, and their families, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 96 was chartered on March 12, 1924. On display at the celebration were the framed documents of the original 1924 Charter with signatures, including family members of the Unit’s namesakes, Hayes-Velhage, Grace Hayes, Mildred C. Hayes, Lillian Hayes, and Margaret MH Velhage.

Original Charter from 1924. American Legion Auxiliary, Hayes-Velhage Unit 96

Hayes and Velhage signatures. American Legion Auxiliary, Hayes-Velhage Unit 96

An Official Citation from the General Assembly, presented by state Sen. Derek Slap, expressed sincerest congratulations to Unit 96 “In recognition of their 100th Anniversary. From supporting our veterans and their families to championing patriotism and promoting Americanism, the Auxiliary Unit has been a beacon of hope and strength throughout our communities. Your tireless efforts have not only enriched the lives of countless individuals but have also exemplified the true spirit of selflessness and compassion. May this centennial celebration be a joyous occasion filled with fond memories, camaraderie, and renewed determination to continue your noble mission for generations to come.”

West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor with Unit President Jenn McLeod. American Legion Auxiliary, Hayes-Velhage Unit 96

A Proclamation from the Town of West Hartford, presented by Mayor Shari G. Cantor, included declarations that “American Legion Hayes-Velhage Auxiliary Unit 96 has been a vital pillar of support in our community for 100 years … has demonstrated a dedication to supporting veterans, military and their families … and promotes patriotism and Americanism.”  The Unit was recognized for “their selfless efforts” that have brought hope and strength to countless individuals and “exemplified the true spirit of compassion and generosity.”

State Sen. Derek Slap with Unit President Jenn McLeod. American Legion Auxiliary, Hayes-Velhage Unit 96

Celebration of 100 years at Birdie Lounge. American Legion Auxiliary, Hayes-Velhage Unit 96

The West Hartford community can look forward to seeing Unit 96 in action, on the weekends during May, near the Veterans Memorial and in the West Hartford Memorial Day Parade, distributing poppies. May 24th, Poppy Day, is to honor all fallen veterans. Contributions received for a Poppy are used exclusively to assist veteran’s needs.

For more information or see what the Unit is doing in West Hartford, contact us at: [email protected] and Follow on Facebook at ALAUnit96CT.

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