MAC: History of American Legion Beatty Post 24

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Did you know …

It was 100 years ago on April 6, 1917, when then U.S. President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war against Germany. This is a very solemn reminder of the more than 116,000 U.S. troops who sacrificed so others might live in peace and freedom. By the end of the war, on November 18, 1918, more than 4.7 million men and women had served in the Army with over 2 million serving in Europe. Veterans of World War I formed the American Legion in Paris, France, on March 16, 1919. The Legion was chartered by the United States Congress on September 16, 1919.

Also in 1919, the Canton American Legion Post 24 was established. It is named after Edward J. Beatty, the first serviceman from Canton to lose his life in World War I. Canton elected Clement Cosgrove as its first commander followed by Carl Standish later in 1919, then William Flood in 1920 and Phillip Capen in 1921. From 1919 to 1942, the veterans group held its meetings in the Brooks Building at the corner of Bolivar and Washington streets. The building burned to the ground in 1942. In 1947, the Canton American Legion Edward J. Beatty Post No. 24 moved to its own building and present location at 950R Washington Street behind Canton High School. It is the only veterans post in America on a school property. The American Legion helps former soldiers by giving them a place to talk and get medical advice. It is a special club for people who understand the stresses of war and the toll it takes on a person.

Canton Veterans Agent Tony Andreotti and the writings of the late Ed Lynch helped MAC learn about the life of Sergeant Edward J. Beatty. Beatty was born in Canton on April 10, 1892, to Edward and Mary Beatty and was one of two boys in a family of seven children. The Beattys resided in a home on Wall Street. Beatty was a graduate of the Canton Public Schools and was a carpenter by trade. He enlisted in the Army on May 26, 1913, and in 1916, his unit, the 26th Division, was sent to the Mexican border for the military operation known as the Pancho Villa expedition. On April 6, 1917, the day America declared war on Germany, there was a patriotic parade in Canton from Neponset Street to the Town Hall led by the National Guardsmen that included Sgt. Ed Beatty. On September 22, 1917, Beatty sailed to France. On April 20, 1918, at the Battle of Seicheprey, the Germans launched a massive assault during which the 26-year-old Beatty was killed. A funeral mass for him at St. John’s was attended by the townspeople, who overflowed the capacity of the church. However, it wasn’t until August 9, 1921, that Beatty’s body came home from France for burial. He lay in state for 24 hours at Memorial Hall, becoming the first and only person in town history to be waked at Memorial Hall. He is buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery.

Thirteen men and one woman from Canton died in the “Great War.” On July 4, 1926, the World War I monument in Canton was dedicated in front of the then Canton High School (now the Hemenway senior complex) on Washington Street in Canton. The monument has the names of each deceased etched on it. It was relocated a few years ago with all the other war memorials to the beautiful veterans park at Canton Corner Cemetery.

The United States World War I Centennial Commission plans to build a memorial in the nation’s capital at Pershing Park. It will cost approximately $50 million.

Frank Buckles, a 110-year-old VFW life member from West Virginia, was the nation’s last living link to WWI. His death in 2011 marked the end of the Doughboy Generation.

National Poppy Day occurs on the Monday before Memorial Day, which is May 22 this year. It signifies the start of National Poppy Week, which runs through Sunday, May 28. The poppy is the official flower of the American Legion. The American Legion Ladies Auxiliary helps to distribute paper poppies, collecting donations around Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Starting in 1919, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Field,” British residents observe the end of the war by placing one red poppy for each fallen soldier on the grounds of the Tower of London.

MAC recently took in the opening girls tennis match at Archbishop Williams High School to watch his twin granddaughters, Brooke and Taylor Alessi, play on the high school varsity team. Archies defeated St. Mary’s of Lynn by a score of 5-0. Eighth graders Brooke and Taylor played exceptionally well, leading Archies in singles at No. 1 and No. 2 with scores of 6-0, 6-1 and 6-0, 6-0 respectively. This is Brooke and Taylor’s first year at Archies after having been students in the Canton Public Schools since kindergarten.

Stay tuned for next week’s column when MAC will analyze the recent selectmen’s race.

We never lose friends. We simply learn who the real ones are.

That is all for now folks. See you next week.

Joe DeFelice can be reached at manaboutcanton@aol.com.

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