Brookline man wants to revitalize American Legion

BROOKLINE – At 48, Ron Merryman is probably the youngest active member of Brookline American Legion Post 74, and that fact doesn’t bode well for the organization’s continuing vitality.

Post 74, like most veterans groups all over the country, is losing members.

Its biggest supporters are those who served in World War II and the Korean War, and with much of the “Greatest Generation” now in their 80s and 90s, hundreds of veterans are dying every day.

The American Legion has helped veterans, who have also served their communities, since its founding after the first World War. There are now nearly 3 million members in more than 14,000 posts worldwide, but that number is dwindling fast.

So Merryman is on a mission to revitalize the local posts, and he wants to start by rechartering a Sons of the American Legion to serve Brookline, Hollis, Mason, Milford and surrounding communities.

“Most members are getting up in age and they are not being replaced by younger members …. for a lot of reasons,” including generational differences, he said.

Merryman, who served in the Air Force and is now in the Naval Reserve, points out that only 1 percent of the population has served in the military.

That’s in sharp contrast to the World War II era,
when a high percentage of able-bodied men were in the service, so veterans groups were drawing on a much larger number.

The point is to “bring in more youth and keep the group viable,” Merryman said.

The first action is to find charter members to establish the group, and to do that, he needs a minimum of 10 committed members. He now has five.

“I and others feel that the responsibilities to keep the American Legion viable for the next 50 years will fall on those in my generation and younger,” Merryman said. “Thus, my desire to build a legacy from the youth.”

If the new charter members want a co-ed group, Merryman might start with an umbrella group he is calling COMRADES – Combined Relatives and Descendents of the American Legion – made up of young men from the Sons and women from any American Legion Auxiliary.

While Sons have to be part of a direct lineage of men who served in the U.S. military, auxiliary members only need to be related to have had, for example, their mothers, sisters or aunts who served in the military.

Merryman thinks COMRADES would be between 10 and college age, and he said he would like them to focus on a long-term continuous service project throughout Brookline and Hollis “to capture veterans’ stories and bring the towns’ granite monuments alive using content in both electronic and print format.”

The historical society is interested, he said, and the project might become a valuable local history resource for the elementary schools.

Finding members for the Sons should be easier than finding new American Legion members because a person doesn’t have to have served in the military – any direct descendant of a veteran who served during wartime would be eligible, anyone from a baby to a great-grandfather.

“Bringing sons and daughters in and having them engaged might spur their parents and grandparents,” Merryman said.

Among the benefits of membership, he said, are camaraderie – being with “people who understand – and keeping alive a legacy of service.”

Members also would get help with practical problems such as sickness, unemployment and finances.

Although there apparently was once a Sons group in Brookline many years ago, so many of its members went into the service during World War II that there weren’t enough to keep it going.

To sign up, a military service record (Department of Defense Form 214) is required, and if there are no records, the New Hampshire Armory will help.

“If your relative served just one day, you can qualify,” Merryman said.

Dues would be minimal, maybe $10 a year, and meetings would be few – only quarterly, not monthly – the minimum needed to continue service projects, he said.

“The goal is not to have meetings for meetings’ sake,” Merryman said, “but for service and support and as a way to give back.”

For more information, email Merryman at amlegion.nh.74.sons@icloud.com.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.

Brookline man wants to revitalize American Legion

BROOKLINE – At 48, Ron Merryman is probably the youngest active member of Brookline American Legion Post 74, and that fact doesn’t bode well for the organization’s continuing vitality.

Post 74, like most veterans groups all over the country, is losing members.

Its biggest supporters are those who served in World War II and the Korean War, and with much of the “Greatest Generation” now in their 80s and 90s, hundreds of veterans are dying every day.

The American Legion has helped veterans, who have also served their communities, since its founding after the first World War. There are now nearly 3 million members in more than 14,000 posts worldwide, but that number is dwindling fast.

So Merryman is on a mission to revitalize the local posts, and he wants to start by rechartering a Sons of the American Legion to serve Brookline, Hollis, Mason, Milford and surrounding communities.

“Most members are getting up in age and they are not being replaced by younger members …. for a lot of reasons,” including generational differences, he said.

Merryman, who served in the Air Force and is now in the Naval Reserve, points out that only 1 percent of the population has served in the military.

That’s in sharp contrast to the World War II era,
when a high percentage of able-bodied men were in the service, so veterans groups were drawing on a much larger number.

The point is to “bring in more youth and keep the group viable,” Merryman said.

The first action is to find charter members to establish the group, and to do that, he needs a minimum of 10 committed members. He now has five.

“I and others feel that the responsibilities to keep the American Legion viable for the next 50 years will fall on those in my generation and younger,” Merryman said. “Thus, my desire to build a legacy from the youth.”

If the new charter members want a co-ed group, Merryman might start with an umbrella group he is calling COMRADES – Combined Relatives and Descendents of the American Legion – made up of young men from the Sons and women from any American Legion Auxiliary.

While Sons have to be part of a direct lineage of men who served in the U.S. military, auxiliary members only need to be related to have had, for example, their mothers, sisters or aunts who served in the military.

Merryman thinks COMRADES would be between 10 and college age, and he said he would like them to focus on a long-term continuous service project throughout Brookline and Hollis “to capture veterans’ stories and bring the towns’ granite monuments alive using content in both electronic and print format.”

The historical society is interested, he said, and the project might become a valuable local history resource for the elementary schools.

Finding members for the Sons should be easier than finding new American Legion members because a person doesn’t have to have served in the military – any direct descendant of a veteran who served during wartime would be eligible, anyone from a baby to a great-grandfather.

“Bringing sons and daughters in and having them engaged might spur their parents and grandparents,” Merryman said.

Among the benefits of membership, he said, are camaraderie – being with “people who understand – and keeping alive a legacy of service.”

Members also would get help with practical problems such as sickness, unemployment and finances.

Although there apparently was once a Sons group in Brookline many years ago, so many of its members went into the service during World War II that there weren’t enough to keep it going.

To sign up, a military service record (Department of Defense Form 214) is required, and if there are no records, the New Hampshire Armory will help.

“If your relative served just one day, you can qualify,” Merryman said.

Dues would be minimal, maybe $10 a year, and meetings would be few – only quarterly, not monthly – the minimum needed to continue service projects, he said.

“The goal is not to have meetings for meetings’ sake,” Merryman said, “but for service and support and as a way to give back.”

For more information, email Merryman at amlegion.nh.74.sons@icloud.com.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.

Brookline man wants to revitalize American Legion

BROOKLINE – At 48, Ron Merryman is probably the youngest active member of Brookline American Legion Post 74, and that fact doesn’t bode well for the organization’s continuing vitality.

Post 74, like most veterans groups all over the country, is losing members.

Its biggest supporters are those who served in World War II and the Korean War, and with much of the “Greatest Generation” now in their 80s and 90s, hundreds of veterans are dying every day.

The American Legion has helped veterans, who have also served their communities, since its founding after the first World War. There are now nearly 3 million members in more than 14,000 posts worldwide, but that number is dwindling fast.

So Merryman is on a mission to revitalize the local posts, and he wants to start by rechartering a Sons of the American Legion to serve Brookline, Hollis, Mason, Milford and surrounding communities.

“Most members are getting up in age and they are not being replaced by younger members …. for a lot of reasons,” including generational differences, he said.

Merryman, who served in the Air Force and is now in the Naval Reserve, points out that only 1 percent of the population has served in the military.

That’s in sharp contrast to the World War II era,
when a high percentage of able-bodied men were in the service, so veterans groups were drawing on a much larger number.

The point is to “bring in more youth and keep the group viable,” Merryman said.

The first action is to find charter members to establish the group, and to do that, he needs a minimum of 10 committed members. He now has five.

“I and others feel that the responsibilities to keep the American Legion viable for the next 50 years will fall on those in my generation and younger,” Merryman said. “Thus, my desire to build a legacy from the youth.”

If the new charter members want a co-ed group, Merryman might start with an umbrella group he is calling COMRADES – Combined Relatives and Descendents of the American Legion – made up of young men from the Sons and women from any American Legion Auxiliary.

While Sons have to be part of a direct lineage of men who served in the U.S. military, auxiliary members only need to be related to have had, for example, their mothers, sisters or aunts who served in the military.

Merryman thinks COMRADES would be between 10 years old and college age, and he said he would like them to focus on a long-term continuous service project throughout Brookline and Hollis “to capture veterans’ stories and bring the towns’ granite monuments alive using content in both electronic and print format.”

The historical society is interested, he said, and the project might become a valuable local history resource for the elementary schools.

Finding members for the Sons should be easier than finding new American Legion members because a person doesn’t have to have served in the military – any direct descendant of a veteran who served during wartime would be eligible, anyone from a baby to a great-grandfather.

“Bringing sons and daughters in and having them engaged might spur their parents and grandparents,” Merryman said.

Among the benefits of membership, he said, are camaraderie – being with “people who understand – and keeping alive a legacy of service.”

Members also would get help with practical problems such as sickness, unemployment and finances.

Although there apparently was once a Sons group in Brookline many years ago, so many of its members went into the service during World War II that there weren’t enough to keep it going.

To sign up, a military service record (Department of Defense Form 214) is required, and if there are no records, the New Hampshire Armory will help.

“If your relative served just one day, you can qualify,” Merryman said.

Dues would be minimal, maybe $10 a year, and meetings would be few – only quarterly, not monthly – the minimum needed to continue service projects, he said.

“The goal is not to have meetings for meetings’ sake,” Merryman said, “but for service and support and as a way to give back.”

For more information, email Merryman at amlegion.nh.74.sons@icloud.com.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or
kcleveland@cabinet.com.