American Legion John White Post 650, in Epworth.

Epworth’s John White Post 650 has been honored with a Recognition of Post Excellence by the American Legion.

A proclamation from The Legion, dated Sept. 11, 2020 states Post 650 has demonstrated excellence in serving its community above and beyond all expectations.

The proclamation further states Post 650’s exemplary efforts deserve recognition for support of the programs and activities of The American Legion.

Post Commander Dick Bries explained how the post earned recognition from the American Legion’s National Commander, James W. Oxford, and National Adjutant, Daniel S. Wheeler.

“We received the award because our membership is up. Last year we had 100% of our membership in, and we were one of the first posts to get that done,” said Bries. “Last year we had 94 members, and we added one to get to 95. Every year, the goal is to increase membership by one, so next year we’ll shoot for 96.”

Another factor in Post 650’s recognition is the role the post plays in the Legion’s regional programs.

“We are the only post in Iowa that has two district officers,” said Brees. “Several counties in Eastern Iowa make up the second district. I am vice-commander of Dubuque and Jackson counties and Dale Ratterman is the district finance officer.”

Post 650 was charted in Oct. of 1928 with 15 original members. Bries is in his 52nd year with the organization and is proud of the contributions the post’s 95 members have made in the Epworth community and the surrounding area, including Memorial Day services at seven Dubuque County cemeteries.

“We start out at High View in Epworth and come back and do ceremonies at the park,” said Bries. “After that, we usually march down to St. Patrick’s Cemetery, go over to Rickardsville and come back to Centralia.

“Then we go to Holy Family at the Monastery, Placid and back to Epworth, where we do the honors at a little rural cemetery south of town.”

While everyone associates American Legion posts with Memorial Day events and military honors at funerals, Post 650 contributes in other ways, providing scholarships to deserving students and sponsoring Red Cross blood drives.

“We had the money for a scholarship given to us years ago — $50,000. We’ve provided scholarships to six students every year,” said Bries. “We think this year could be the last time we are able to do this, but we’ve given out over $107,000 to area students over the years.”

The American Legion was founded in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization, and currently has over two million members in 13,000 posts worldwide.