ARLINGTON — The American Legion Post 69's charter has been reinstated, just in time for the town's 70th annual Memorial Day parade.
The Legion's charter was reinstated on Sunday, a day after a meeting with the American Legion Department of Vermont's Internal Affairs Committee, according to trustee and elder Jerry Woodard.
While it's good news for Legion members and community organizations that relied on the post, Woodward said the investigation is the worst thing that could've happened to the organization. And the nature of the investigation is still unclear. Woodard said neither he nor a lawyer representing the Legion know why it was launched.
"It was a witch hunt for who knows what," Woodard said Wednesday "We took quite a beating on this for no reason. It was despicable how it was handled, they were really quite rude. We're going to move forward with a new roster, but what happened was totally wrong."
Dee Colety, president for the American Legion Auxiliary Post 69, said she and others are pleased the charter has been reinstated in time for the Memorial Day ceremonies.
"After all these years, if you don't have it this year, you're never going to be able to bring it back again," Colety said.
Planning was underway before the charter was reinstated, Colety said. The Memorial Day observance will be co-hosted by the auxiliary and the Arlington Lions Club. Both organizations are separate from the American Legion.
Lineup begins at 10:45 a.m. on School Street and the parade steps off at 11 a.m. It'll end at the Fisher School, where there will be a short ceremony at the memorial and then refreshments.
In February, the American Legion Department of Vermont suspended the post's charter. Charters allow posts across the country to use the "American Legion" name, emblem and badges.
At the time, post leaders and a state official said an investigation was launched but didn't specify exact reasons.
Royal Sheeley, chairman of the Department of Vermont American Legion's Internal Affairs Committee, said in an interview last month that his organization launched an investigation into the way the post has been operating, "with respect to their goals, principles and procedures the Legion expects posts to operate under."
"One of my missions of department is to protect integrity of our posts and ensure veterans who are members are getting the type of service, support and programs the Legion sponsors," Sheeley said in an article published in the Banner on April 2.
Attempts to reach Sheeley were unsuccessful.
Woodard said Post Commander Tanya Harrison-Houston and adjutant Thomas Houston have stopped communicating with him and other Legion members. Attempts to reach either for comment were unsuccessful.
In response to a previous email seeking comment, both said they hoped the investigation would conclude soon and the Legion would again be open for business.
The Legion does a lot for the community, Woodard said, and intends to keep doing so. But he said he and others won't forget this experience.
"The dust may settle, but the cloud will never go away."
Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979