Post 67 History
A Portrait of Private Edward Lopeman (1895-1918) in his Maine National Guard Uniform, circa 1916-1917.
While the fires and fighting of the First World War had ended on November 11, 1918, the battle for remembrance and resolute support for veterans of the then called "Great War" was just beginning. Bridgton's returning soldiers and sailors did not forget the sacredness of their comradeship, and the need to support the families of their fallen comrades was not lost on those who had survived.
Thus, as 1919 went on, many of Bridgton's veterans read with eagerness about the formation of a new, national veterans organization, forming as the American Legion. As soon as interest spread to the local area, many of these veterans eagerly awaited to form a Bridgton Post of the American Legion in Maine.
The time came on November 4, 1919, when Bridgton chartered Roosevelt Post No. 67. The first officers of the post were as follows: Commander: Dr. Herbert L. Lombard, Vice Commander: Thomas Fitton, Adjutant: Maurice Heath, Finance Officer: Oliver Young, Historian: David Cockburn, Chaplain: Harold Weeman. In the early years of the American Legion, the role of the service officer was divided into two postions, to help discharged veterans seek out work, or file compensation claims for injuries received in service. The workload to help hundreds of thousands of discharged men and women was not expected to fall on one officer's shoulders. To faciliate these services, the following additonal officers were elected: Employment Officer: Henry Weeman, War Risk Insurance Officer: Everett Larrabee. While the role of employment officer may be self explanatory, many forget that the demands of helping soldiers file their War Risk Insurance claims to the Treasury Department were vital to helping them receive their earned benefits. Since 1919, these duties are now fulfilled by the Post Service Officer, who continues to help our local veterans today!
To form a strong bulkwark of support for the American Legion's constitution, and the Bridgton Post's bylaws, a Committee on Resolutions and Bylaws was formed to preserve these principles. The committee members were Roland Richardson, Everett Larrabee, and Clifford Stiles.
Overall, 38 charter members, consisting of many of Bridgton's honorably discharged soldiers and sailors, came together to form a foundation for Bridgton to honor its' veterans, and to further support them.
Although originally charted as "Roosevelt Post", most likely in honor of Colonel Theodore Roosevelt Jr, the post changed its' name in 1921 to honor one of Bridgton's deceased doughboys, Private First Class Edward Lopeman. Lopeman was a popular local resident, who had been involved with many local organizations before joining the Maine National Guard on June 21, 1916. He served on the Mexican Border during the year, and was later called back to active duty on the onset of America's entry into World War One. Departing for overseas service on September 27, 1917, Lopeman was sadly one of two Bridgton soldiers who never came back from the Western front. On July 20, 1918, while fighting at Chateau-Thierry, Private First Class Lopeman made the supreme sacrifice for his country, and took his place in history. Although initially buried in France, his remains were brought home to his native Bridgton three years later, and he was buried in Forest Hill Cemetery on September 11, 1921.
Over the next quarter of a century, Bridgton's American Legion became a prominent pillar in the local community. The post took part in many Armsitice and Memorial Day celebrations, to baseball games. There was even a band formed by the musically inclined members! As the Second World War came to the United States, Lopeman Post rose to the challenges of supporting another generation of veterans and their families. The Post offered Red Cross benefit suppers and balls, Gold Star Citations for families, and other donation drives for the war effort.
After the hositilites ceased, the American Legion in Bridgton was joined by another great generation of veterans, who sought to continue the same missions their fathers and uncles started after World War One. To remember one of their own war's comrades, The Lopeman Post unanimously adopted the name of Private William R. Potts, a Marine who perished off the coast of Iceland while aboard the transport USS Henry R. Mallory. Since May 2, 1946, The Bridgton American Legion has proudly borne the name of Lopeman-Potts.
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