This weekend, Wakonda area residents will be celebrating a milestone: the 100th anniversary of Gringrich-Dixon Post #13. The American Legion post has played a significant and important role in the town of Wakonda since it was formed in May, 1919.
To celebrate this special anniversary, a patriotic-themed parade will take place in Wakonda at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 13. A luncheon, which is free to veterans and offered to others for a free will donation, will take place at the Legion Hall, First and Montana Streets in Wakonda, following the parade. A street dance featuring the Dustin Evans Band will be held that evening at The Wakonda Hotel & Pit in Wakonda as part of the celebration.
“We currently have right about 101 members in our legion, which is pretty good for a town of only 300” said John Peterson, Post 13 commander. “The national American Legion also turns 100 this year. Our individual post was one of the first founded in the state.”
Nationally, the American Legion organization was formed in Paris, France, in March, 1919. In May, 1919, Wakonda veterans of World War I formed their own branch of the new organization. After the United States Congress federally chartered the national organization in September, 1919, Wakonda’s branch elected officers and named their post the Gingrich Post after Curvin Gingrich, the first soldier from Wakonda who was killed in action on Nov. 1, 1918.
In 1946, the Gingrich Post was renamed to Gingrich-Dixon Post 13 in memory of Luverne Dixon, a Wakonda area soldier who was reported missing during World War II after he led a detail of men in an advance on enemy lines in Italy.
Wakonda’s American Legion Post began meeting in the Star Township Hall, a facility located on the corner of Montana and First Streets in Wakonda, beginning in 1944. Over the years, Legion members increased the size of the hall and hosted many dances, banquets, wedding receptions, meetings, and other community events there. Unfortunately, in 2006, that much-beloved hall burnt to the ground. The Wakonda community then pulled together, raising more than $85,000 to supplement insurance money to build a new facility. They opened the new building one year later in 2007.
The new Gingrich-Dixon Post 13 Legion Hall, located in the same spot as the previous one, continues to be one of the busiest places in Wakonda, hosting meetings, community events, and many Girard Auction Company auctions. Legion members stay busy with many activities, including holding annual Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day services for the community, participating in local parades and programs, hosting the annual Hunter’s Feed and dance each October at the Legion Hall, and serving meals at auctions, fundraisers and other events.
Another major project of Wakonda’s Post 13 Legion in recent years was the building and maintaining of a Veteran’s Memorial in Wakonda. The memorial, which features four stone plaques with names on it, is located on the site of the original Wakonda school building at the corner of Second and Iowa Streets. The memorial includes more than 750 names of those with Wakonda connections who served in the military from the 1800s onward.
Everyone is invited to join Wakonda community and Legion members this weekend to celebrate 100 years of Gingrich-Dixon Post 13.