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The History of American Legion Post 690 in Palatine, Illinois

The American Legion has a long and proud history of serving American
veterans. The roots of the society go back to World War I. Sixty million
soldiers fought in the "Great War". In that global conflict, fifty men from our
small village of Palatine served in the American Expeditionary Forces in
Europe. They fought for the Allies against the Central Powers.

The end of the war left hundreds of thousands of draftees in France anxious
to return home. To avoid a logistical nightmare former Pres. Theodore
Roosevelt's son Theodore Jr. helped form an organization to serve the needs
of those men. That organization, the American Legion, in over a century, has
served millions of men and women who answered the call to defend our

The national organization grew quickly and within a year a local post was
formed. According to the Cook County Herald, American Legion Post No.
690 held its first dance at Seip's Auditorium at 16 N. Bothwell St. on
December 4, 1920. Doody's Famous Syncopated Orchestra provided music
and the Post served sandwiches and coffee. Admission: Gents, 75 cents and
Ladies, 25 cents.

The Women's Auxiliary formed soon thereafter and presented a flag to the
Post May 16, 1921. The Post was officially chartered by the national and
state organizations in 1924.

Meetings were held for years at Odd Fellows Hall, 21 W. Railroad Ave. The
Post raised money for sick and wounded ex-servicemen in local hospitals.
The purpose of the Post was to fight for the welfare of all ex-service people,
find jobs for them and take care of their families while benefit claims were
processed by the federal government.

The organization funded its activities by asking people to donate money
during Poppy Days. It also sponsored picnics, carnivals and baby contests.
In 1925 it thrilled attendees with motorcycle races, an aeroplane circus and a
game of auto polo at the Cook County Fair Grounds southeast of Hicks Rd.
and Baldwin Rd.

In 1934 the Post dedicated a war memorial next to the village flag pole at
Plum Grove Rd. and Slade St. The 4.7-inch field gun honored the boys who
fought in the world war. Commander Harry Smith gave an acceptance
speech. Special honor was given to William Heide and Benjamin Blohm
who were killed in action in France.

In between the two wars Palatine Post No. 690 continued to respond to
needs that arose. It supported the Scouts, the Palatine Public Library and
opened a playground at Palatine High School. It even raised funds to help
victims of the Ohio River flood of 1937.

During World War II a desperate need developed for raw materials. The Post
organized many scrap metal drives. It helped salvage iron fences, tin cans
and clothing. It even gave up its old cannon for recycling.

By the end of the war the Post realized it needed to erect its own building at
122 W. Palatine Rd. It had purchased the land nearly twenty years earlier.
By 1949 the building was complete with two floors and a basement.

Postwar saw an even bigger need for its services. Six hundred Palatine men
and women had fought in every corner of the globe to free people from
tyranny. And twenty-one had made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives.
Those twenty-one and the two from WWI have their names inscribed on a
plaque at Legion Hall. And on the side of the building is a special slogan:

All gave some, some gave all.

Like the national organization, our local Post has always stressed the
importance of Americanism. It has promoted essay contests in schools,
brought in speakers to inspire patriotism and paid tribute to our war heroes.
It has expanded its mission to include men and women of all U.S. wars.
The Palatine Historical Society wishes to thank the American Legion Post
690 of Palatine, Illinois and its many members who have answered the call,
raised the flag, stood in harm’s way and offered up blood and treasure in
sacrifice to their country. We can never repay you.

David Hammer

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