Scottsdale’s American Legion Post 44 will host an outdoor ceremony at its downtown Scottsdale location to commemorate Veterans Day this year.
Post 44, which is hosting the event alongside the local VFW Post 3513 and the Disabled American Veterans nonprofit, decided to move forward with the commemoration after the City of Scottsdale moved its own event online.
“I’m on the city’s Veterans Advisory Commission, and we said we have to do something,” said Mike Ragole, commander of Post 44.
The city, which typically hosts its event at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park, went virtual because of the pandemic.
According to the city, it produced a series of original videos to honor veterans this year.
The videos will air at 11 a.m. Nov. 11 and then run periodically throughout the day on Scottsdale Channel 11 and stream online on the Scottsdale Video Network at scottsdaleaz.gov/scottsdale-video-network. The videos will also be available on the city’s YouTube channel.
Ragole said he expects 25 to 50 people to attend the American Legion Event at 11 a.m. Nov. 11 in the parking lot at Post 44, 7145 E. 2nd Street.
The commemoration will feature presentations from the commanders of the three participating organizations.
Ragole said they will also recognize dozens of veteran members who have passed away over the past nine months but did not receive typical recognition on Memorial Day, when the pandemic disrupted commemorations.
“We want to give some recognition to them,” Ragole said. “They didn’t receive that on Memorial Day, because there were no gatherings at the cemeteries.”
Ragole said Congressman David Schweikert promised to attend the event and several other local politicians could also be there.
“We’re non-partisan; the door is open to everyone,” Ragole said.
Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19 this year, the American Legion has been able to follow through on its mission to support local veterans and veterans groups.
Ragole said that is largely due to the generosity of the community, which stepped up and continued to offer financial support to organization despite the economic challenges created by the pandemic.
“People understand what vets have done in the past and want to help the guys and gals who are back now,” Ragole said.
Ragole said American Legion Post 44 benefited from the fact that it operates as a restaurant, meaning it was allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity when Governor Doug Ducey allowed restaurants and some bars to reopen a few months ago.
“Like any restaurant, we’re following all the rules,” Ragole said.
That allowed Post 44 to continue its weekly fundraisers, which include bingo and a Queen of Hearts drawing.
The post also received over $16,000 from a fundraiser started by Scottsdale resident James “JJ” Murray, a World War II veteran.
Murray started a GoFundMe memorial fundraiser last year in honor of his childhood best friend Ambrose Geib, who also served during World War II and was killed in action during fighting at the Battle of Bulge.
Ragole said Post 44 donated the money to nonprofits that provide housing for homeless veterans and household items to veterans in need.