November 15, 2019

Pair of Centennial Celebrations for Local Veterans

American Legion Post 148 Veterans with Mr. Thomas Lipford (Standing L-R): Jim Bishop (Commander), V.D. Massey (Finance Officer), Larry Pike, Durell Langley (Adjutant), Ken Thompson, Lawrence Lipford (Jr. Vice Cmdr), Wayne Miller (Chaplain), Joe Mills, David McEachern, Darrell Pugh (Historian), and Donald Sapp

(Franklin, GA) — Local veterans and guests gathered Tuesday evening, April 2 in Franklin to recognize not just one, but two important centennial celebrations.

The American Legion organization turned 100 years old last month and one of Post 148’s most esteemed members, Mr. Thomas Darden Lipford will also celebrate his 100th birthday in a few weeks on May 30.

Lipford served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, and is believed to be the oldest living WWII veteran in Heard County.

Mr. Lipford has shared many stories over the past few years about his service to the United States in the Pacific theatre of the war, including about his flight over Hiroshima before the bombing and the devastation he witnessed on the return flight.

Mr. Lipford’s roots run deep in Heard county as he is descended from the Lipford, Stephens, Shackleford, Hollingsworth, Echols, Davis, and Newman families – all pioneers coming to Heard County after its formation in 1830. He graduated from Heard County High School and attended Emory University.

Upon returning home from the war, he became a partner in Lipford Grocery and Hardware. He married Lucille Simmons and they proceeded to raise two sons, Lawrence Thomas and Mack Donald. Mack and Lawrence were both in attendance at Tuesday night’s ceremony for their father.

Not only was he a successful businessman, but Mr. Lipford served as a member of the Heard County Board of Education, Chairman of the Board of Education, as Deacon for the First Baptist Church of Franklin for 58 years, as Sunday school director for 29 years, and he additionally served as a Trustee for Rockridge Baptist Assembly.

American Legion Post 148 Adjutant Durell Langley and Post Commander Jim Bishop presented Mr. Lipford with several awards including a Certificate of Appreciation, a Centennial American Legion Pin, and a 100-year American Legion Coin. Guests and members also enjoyed a special birthday cake for the occasion.

An appreciative Mr. Lipford spoke to those in attendance and thanked the American Legion for recognizing him.

The American Legion traces its roots to March 15-17, 1919, in Paris, France, in the aftermath of World War I. The organization was federally chartered on Sept. 16, 1919, and quickly became an influential force at the national, state and local levels, dedicated to service to veterans, strong national defense, youth and patriotism.

By 1920, the American Legion had chartered more than 5,000 local posts with most still in operation today.

Since then it has grown to more than 13,000 posts around the world, and more than 2.2 million wartime-veteran members.

Throughout its first century, The American Legion built a legacy on such accomplishments as leading the way to create U.S. Flag Code, helping start the Veterans Administration, drafting and getting passed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 – the GI Bill – which transformed America in the second half of the 20th century, and helping veterans receive benefits for health-care conditions based on their honorable service, including acceptance of Agent Orange exposure as service-connected.

Today, The American Legion has nearly 3,000 accredited service officers worldwide who assist veterans with their benefits claims and other concerns.

Post 148 was originally chartered in 1934 and is currently housed at 3191 Franklin Parkway. The post is very active at serving the needs of veterans in the Heard County community. The Post also hosts ‘Bingo Night’ every Thursday at 7:30 PM.

Any veteran interested in joining the American Legion can get more information by calling Durell Langley at (678) 575-6945.

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