DANSVILLE — Daniel Goho American Legion Post 87 held a celebration to honor the 100th Anniversary the Legion organization.
On March 23 the community, local and state officials, and veterans gathered to honor a century of this proud military organization.
The Dansville Baptist Church was built in 1852 on the corner, but once it was abandoned the Legion bought and remodeled it in 1938. It has remained a strong part of the military history ever since with generations of veterans joining its call. The Legion met in various places before finding a permanent home on Elizabeth Street.
The Daniel Goho American Legion Post 87 was born out of tragedy. Daniel Goho, 19, was the first Dansville son to be killed in action in World War I. When the American Legion formed in 1919 it was declared that each post be named after the first fallen solider of the township.
There is a Wall of Honor as you walk into the Legion with 62 local men and women who died in battle. Downstairs is a wall of 80 post commanders with one being a woman. There are 11 past post commanders who have done more than one term.
Dansville Legion Historian Bill Gilbert said that he wants to do a history on the post at some point.
“For an organization that has done so much for the community and nation to still be in existence after 100 years is incredible,” he said. “The Legion has always been family. I was asked to join, because I came home from service and went to a veterans outreach at the VFW. They had offered to help me with a resume, because I needed a job. I found out there I was eligible for the legion. Since I was in service during the Vietnam War, but I was never in the combat zone I couldn’t be in the VFW.”
Vietnam Veteran Gilbert served in the US Navy from 1974 to 1978. He was post commander at the Legion twice (1992-93 and 2012-14).
Gilbert would come down as a Boy Scout to the Legion for the breakfasts the veterans would put on for the children.
“I was so intrigued with this place when I was a boy,” he said. “We had veterans putting on breakfast for us, and I wanted to be a part of that someday. I wanted to be the veteran making breakfast for the Boy Scouts.”
Dansville Post Commander James Carey said it is very important that the Legion is still going after a century. Carey told the story of the local Legion post at the celebration.
“The American Legion was formed in France during a three day period in March 15, 16, and 17, 1919. A group of veterans from various divisions of the American expeditions and military forces created our institution,” he said. “There were 276 men from Dansville who served in The Great War. There were 12 of them who died in service, including three killed in action, and six from disease. On May 22, 1919, 39 of these men who served met at the village hall to petition approval to charter their own legion post.
“It was established through the charter that the local post would be named after someone who lost their life in the war. Therefore the first decision was to name the post after Daniel Goho, the first Dansville native to die in the war. He was killed in action at 10 a.m. on Sept. 29, 1918 in France,” Carey continued. “Since then many changes have been made to our post over the past century. Meetings had originally been held in many locations within the village. A few of which include the village hall and Protective Fire Co.”
Gulf War Veteran Carey served in the US Navy from 1990 to 1992. He has been post commander going on four years.
“What I love most about the Legion is that you always have a family and a home to come to,” he said. “They believe in putting family and home first, but if you don’t have a family or a home you can always come here. Everyone here is treated like family. We always have an open hand for those in need.”
Dansville Legion Member Keith Griese said that he has been a member for 50 years, and his father was a member before him.
“I have been active in this legion since the 1970s. I was Sergeant of Arms for 30 years. I was post commander two times. It is a great thing. I can’t express what it means to me to have the legion here for one hundred years,” he said. “My father was a post commander here too, and I grew up at the legion. I raised my sons here, and they are both members of the legion too. My father Bill Griese was a World War Two veteran. He is the reason I wanted to join.”
Vietnam Veteran Griese served in the US Army from 1966 to 1969. He spent one year in Vietnam. He was post commander in 1975-76 and 1996-97.
Shawn Griese, Keith’s son, joined the family tradition of honoring the country and the legion.
“I grew up as a child of the legion community. To me this was always the place to come for a community function. All of my high school teachers were members of the legion,” he said. “To have sustained this organization over one hundred years is a good thing. It is good to have this place for our veterans support.”
Security Specialist Griese served in the US Air Force from 1987 to 2002.
Dansville Mayor Peter Vogt and Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes both read proclamations to honor the 100th anniversary of the Dansville American Legion.
The Dansville American Legion will be taking the 1906 veterans statue in the Greenmount Cemetery and fixing it up soon. The statue will find a new home at the Legion where it can be enjoyed by veterans and community members.