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First responders celebrated at Haughton American Legion

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Ron Fogelson (left) and Keith Kingston (right)
Jennyne Pinter, jpinter@bossierpress.com

Haughton’s American Legion Post 388 honored first responders with a special event this weekend.  

The event, held Saturday, May 19, welcomed various law enforcement agencies including military, police, state troopers, deputies, firefighters, and paramedics.

The event for was started by member Jerry Deaton as a response to the media outrage over police brutality. This is the fourth event of its kind over the last three years.

“Well, I just got tired of it,” Deaton said about the fear of police. “This is our way of saying thank you! EMS comes and picks you up if you have a wreck, they put our fires out, the state police are doing a good job on I-20.”  

Keith Kingston has been in command of Post 388 for the last year.

“We’ve had a great turnout and it really gets us knowing them and them knowing us.”

The American Legion is designated by Congress to provide a place of camaraderie for those who have served specifically during a time of combat. Ron Fogelson, third Vice Commander of Post 388, said the purpose is so like-minded individuals would have a place to gather. 

“It’s a big issue with a lot of people coming back. They used to be really outgoing and like to socialize and then they find themselves feeling really isolated,” Fogelson said.

As time has passed since the birth of the American Legion in 1919, many members have felt that a separation has grown between themselves and the community members. Events, like the one this weekend, is among the ways that Post 388 is trying to bridge that gap.

“It (the Legion) first started in World War I and WWII, then there was Vietnam and Korea where there was the draft,” Fogelson explained.  “Everybody knew someone. If they didn’t have a loved one that served, they knew of a loved one that served. Nowadays with an all volunteer force, less than 1 percent of the population roughly serves.”

While service members are always grateful when thanked for their work and sacrifice, many often feel forgotten within their community.  Post 388 uses this as fuel to celebrate community members that may also otherwise go unnoticed. 

Post 388 and first responders have had occasions to share duties together, such as the flooding in 2016. The building served as a command post and a gathering point for supplies.

This Post of the American Legion has around 330 members residing in both Bossier and Caddo Parishes. While it is considered a “Legion Post,”  it is comprised of several organizations.

The Women’s Auxiliary is a stand-alone organization of women who are married or closely related to Legion members or eligible service members. The Sons of the American Legion (SAL) are boys and men who are relatives of members or eligible service members. The SAL helps with events like that for first responders, as well as helping to maintain the building and establishing relationships between the Legion and community members. 

Although the SAL at Post 388 had been dormant for a while, it is starting show a lot of growth with younger members and has around 70 SAL members currently, many from Barksdale AFB.