The formal 75th anniversary of the chartering of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4421 in Monroe is not until Friday, but the Post celebrated its birthday a bit early as members commemorated its milestone Saturday.
Playing host to dignitaries from the state VFW and local members, the VFW rang in three quarters of a century as one of the major veteran organizations not only in the county but the entire state.
“This post was once the biggest post in Georgia,” Don Smith, quartermaster for Post 4421, said.
The Walton County VFW was a major civic organization in the area and in Georgia, winning national awards for community service multiple times for work such as Christmas toy drives, community blood bank, donations to schools and children’s groups like the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, community athletic teams and more.
The VFW’s most recognized involvement, however, was with the famed Girls Drum and Bugle Corps, which operated for decades, marching in local parades as well as national events like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, among others.
“The VFW maintained two buses for the Corps,” Smith said. “We drove them everywhere they went for years, places like New York and Chicago and anywhere else they played.”
The Walton County VFW Post 4421 was charted on Sept. 18, 1945, with a total of 247 charter members. For the first two years of its existence, the VFW wandered from meeting spot to meeting spot without a permanent home, until the Launius brothers donated land to the post on Spring Street in 1947.
“That was where we established our headquarters for years,” Smith said. “It was the watering hole for the county for a long time.”
It took Smith some time to reestablish some of those dates. He was named quartermaster in 2004 and found himself without the documents to keep the history intact.
“I asked for the records and they directed me to a warehouse,” Smith said. “Well, there was a leak in that building and were no records. So I started from there.”
Over time, Smith has rebuilt the records for the VFW, which had more than 300 members at one point, and maintained a major presence on Spring Street. The VFW would remain there until 1980, when it sold the property and relocated to its current location on South Midland Avenue in downtown Monroe.
In the past few years, the post has grown a bit, rising to 47 members currently from a low slump last decade, and Smith said eventually he and the post leadership will pass the baton to the younger generation to keep the history of Post 4421 going strong.
“The guys who started this post were all World War II veterans,” Smith said.
“We have newer members who will keep our legacy alive.”