Stillwater American Legion Post 129 Celebrates 100 Years of Service

by Rachel Seitz

2020 marks one hundred years since the official chartering of American Legion Post 129. Located at 611 S. Main, the post is known for its dedicated service to Stillwater veterans, its rich history, and its involvement with the community at large.

On October 12, 1919, only a month before the end of the first World War, a group of about 20 Stillwater veterans met in the I.O.O.F. Lodge on 9th Street and organized the Stillwater American Legion Post. The post was named in honor of Carter C. Hanner, who served in the Meuse-Argonne offensive that cracked the German Hindenburg line. In 1947, the post was renamed to include Mamon G. Sharp, who fought alongside only a handful of others at Cebu, Philippine Islands against overwhelming odds, becoming the Hanner-Sharp American Legion Post 129. 

The establishment of Post 129 was kickstarted by its first Commander, Dr. C.E. Sexton, a prominent physician who served in the Army Medical Corps. He witnessed the behaviors of shell-shocked veterans on the Oklahoma A&M campus, and decided that Stillwater needed an American Legion post to help them adjust. During a speech in 1941, Dr. Sexton expressed his pride in the post’s efforts to prevent “radicalism, criminalism, and agitation that would be detrimental to the Stillwater community”. 

Throughout its hundred-year service, Post 129 has committed itself to a legacy of mutual helpfulness and veterans helping veterans. They keep to the American Legion vision of volunteering in the community to support patriotism, national security, and youth development. Post 129 and the Legion at large have long fought for better support for veterans, including the GI Bill, recognition of Agent Orange as the source of service-related illnesses, and more awareness for victims of combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Post 129 frequently hosts events for members and non-members alike. They offer a regular dinner meeting once a month, which includes speakers and special programs. Speakers are often involved with non-profit organizations in Stillwater and provide educational information or resources. Speakers in 2019 included representatives from Our Daily Bread, the City of Stillwater, and athletic officials, among numerous others. Special programs in 2019 included presentations from participants in American Legion-sponsored Boys State, Girls State, and Quilts of Valor. 

Under the direction of Stan Witte, Commander, and Richard Opdyke, Adjutant, members have been updating the building’s interior to include a new sewer system, all new LED lighting, new ADA doors, renovation and paint in the hallway, and installation of two new ADA bathrooms on the first floor. Post 129 is able to support itself by having three businesses within the building: a barbershop, a floor covering business, and the rental of the second-floor ballroom.

The Stillwater History Museum at the Sheerar recently displayed a 100-year-old friendship quilt created as a fundraiser to help build American Legion Post 129. After being auctioned off in a raffle, it was donated back to the post, where it hung until it was donated to the museum in 1974. Additionally, as the year progresses into the warmer season, an original American Legion baseball jersey will be part of the museum’s “Summer Fun” textile display. The museum operates from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.

Upcoming at the Stillwater History Museum
Changing Exhibits
• Stillwater Collects: Who Stole the Cookies cookie jar collection
• Museum Textiles: Aprons from the collection
• Preserving Books: Cookbooks and Children’s Books from the collection
Programs
• Sunday, March 1, 2 p.m., “Women in American Life: 1942-1955 War, Work, Housework, and Growing Discontent” video and discussion presented by the League of Women Voters.
• Spring Break Fun! Create a pop-up card using a variety of templates and supplies provided for free. March 14, 17, and 18, 1-4 p.m.
• Sunday, March 29, “Deep Roots: Oklahoma Authors Oral History Project.” This program documents first-person perspectives of authors with Oklahoma ties, with a special focus on minority and women authors. “Deep Roots” helps Oklahoma authors tell the story behind their stories, and it tells the story about who we are as Oklahomans.