American Legion Post 288

Arthur W. Kirchoff American Legion Post 288 is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and Legion members have grand plans to honor the mark.

HARTLEY—The impact of the Arthur W. Kirchoff American Legion Post 288 will be felt throughout Hartley’s Summer Celebration Aug. 1-4.

The Hartley Legion has been fundraising and preparing to celebrate its 100th anniversary for six years with raffles, fish fries and other community events.

Post commander Cliff Ripke said he is excited to see that hard work pay off and give back to the community.

“We want to give back to the community because the community has been a really great support for — well for 100 years, and I know of the last 10 years at least that I’ve been involved,” Ripke said. “We do everything as the Legion family, which includes the auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion. Hopefully, we can keep this going for another 100 years.”

The Legion will kick off the Summer Celebration with an opening ceremony featuring The Moving Wall Museum. The ceremony will start at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 1, at Trinity United Church of Christ. The wall is a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial that has been traveling the country since 1984.

Post 288 is sponsoring Metro Machines Entertainment for Friday’s kids dance and the band Maiden Dixie for the dance at the Hartley Community Center. Both events are free.

Ripke said he has reached far and wide to invite people to participate in Saturday’s Red, White and Blue Parade, including other Legion posts and state representatives.

“We had an early start. We had our committee set up I know five years, maybe six years ago,” the commander said. “As we had ideas of what we’d like to do we have tried to get those things. I hope it will be a big deal.”

While the Summer Celebration has been on the minds of Ripke and his fellow Legion members, they also stay active in other facets of the Hartley community. The post sent four Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn High School juniors to the American Legion of Iowa Boys State in Des Moines this week. They also present two leadership awards worth $500 to high school students during Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn’s awards night.

Each year, the Legion dedicates flags to veterans that have died over the past year. This year they dedicated four new flags, bringing the total to 379 flags that are erected on Memorial Day.

The Hartley post held its first meeting on Nov. 19, 1919, at the Commercial Club. There were 18 members present. The first officers elected for the organization were:

  • Commander Ralph Stribe
  • Vice commander W.C. Hand
  • Post adjutant L.W. Grotewohl
  • Finance officer R.O. Bumann
  • Post historian Will Hesse
  • Chaplain Freeman Albright

The post takes its name from the first man killed in action from the Hartley area.

“When we started this, the first thing I thought is — Arthur W. Kirchoff, who is he?” Ripke said. “He grew up on a farm here; went to school here. Just a kid that everybody liked apparently. I found out that he was killed in France. He’s buried in France.”

The Legion moved into its current location at 60 First St. S.E. in 1991. Its first home was in a two-story community building that constructed in 1925.

“They started that thing in the spring and they had an open house and dedication in the fall,” Ripke chuckled. “They didn’t have backhoes and dirt movers and so forth either.”

The current Legion building is expected to be updated this summer.