American Legion Post 283 was officially dedicated as Ronald Reagan Palisades Post 283 on Saturday, at a ceremony that began in the street and then moved inside the newly renovated building.
Children (and others) participated in the carnival games set up on the street and enjoyed cotton candy and snow cones before the ceremony. More than 500 people enjoyed the songs from members of the USC Marching Band.
Why did the USC Band come to this renaming? Nancy Niles, a former auxiliary president, who is also an alumnus of the Trojan band (flag girl), asked, and they came. The brass sounds from musicians provided lively music, while people waited to hear the speakers.
Promptly at 3 p.m. Post 283 Commander, Jim Cragg opened the ceremonies, after the UCLA Airforce ROTC color guard presented the flags.
Katrina, Ruby and McKenna Carlson sang a lovely rendition of the National Anthem. 283 Chaplin Joe Ramirez said an opening prayer and Gray Weaver, a member of the Troop 223 Girls, led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Cragg said, “Good afternoon and welcome to Palisades Post 283 of the American Legion. Now we are renaming it the Ronald Reagan Palisades Post in honor of Ronald Reagan, who we knew as Comrade Reagan. But he was also known as Captain, Governor and finally, President of the United States.
“Political opinions aside, his journey was truly an inspiration for all veterans who will walk these halls,” he said.
“It is an inspiration to any veteran that enters this hall, that they know they can go all the way in their lives,” Cragg said, and noted that “this is a special gathering place for bonding and camaraderie with fellow Americans who volunteered to defend this nation and its constitution.”
He told the audience – that the newly renovated hall will be a “gathering place for veterans, their families, and a place for events for friends and neighbors, as we continue our service to this beautiful community.”
Cragg introduced Joe Mantegna, a television/film star and a friend to all veterans. (See separate story to be posted this week.)
Mantegna’s remarks were followed by a Ronald Reagan Foundation representative John Lehne, who grew up in Sunset Mesa – and whose dad, now 95, coached Pop Warner here.
“I’m honored to be here today for the rededication of Post 283,” Lehne said. “President Reagan would be honored to see his name on this building.”
Lehne pointed out that the Reagans, who lived in the Riviera section of Palisades from the 1950s until he moved to Washington D.C. to live in the White House, was a member of this Legion.
“Reagan heavily supported our country’s military,” Lehne said, noting the President was responsible for a revitalized military, and during his presidency the Berlin Wall fell and Russia was held in check to prevent communist expansion.
Also on the dais was Past Post 283 Commander Eric Measles, who was the impetus for the name change (see separate story tomorrow).
Councilwoman Traci Park presented a certificate from the City. Then it was a cutting of the ribbon and bagpipers playing to welcome visitors into the building for food and entertainment.