CENTREVILLE — The American Legion Jeff Davis Post 18 in Centreville has a new look, some new blood, and things are happening to involve more members of the community while serving and honoring local veterans.

Two years ago, the lodge leadership decided to have a mural painted surrounding the once plain white brick building that was undistinguished from other buildings in the area. Some people who drove by the old white building for years said they didn’t know it was an American Legion. The red, white and blue colors that now flow around the building in the mural honoring those who have served, some dying for their country, makes a bold statement: “Someone cares about our veterans.” People notice the American Legion on state Route 213 in Centreville now.

Pamela Jay “P.J.” Dill is president of the Centreville Legion’s Auxiliary. She said, “We had some new, younger members join our post in recent years, and they’re bringing new blood to the post, new energy. It’s helped to have our new members.”

Dill is the chairman of a project to create a museum upstairs at the Legion, featuring artifacts and memorabilia beginning with World War I and covering every major war since then to the present War on Terrorism. There are nine showcases inside the Legion upstairs that will be filled with interesting artifacts from past wars. The first four wars exhibited will be World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

“The goal is to have those four showcases ready by Memorial Day weekend,” Dill said. “We’ve been receiving donations and loans of artifacts from people in the area. We still need more items, some from other wars.”

She added, “We want our museum to be a place where school children can come to learn about the sacrifices our veterans have made for the freedoms we have today in our nation. We want to be able to arrange for the children to come here as part of field trips to see the artifacts. We also hope people touring the area can stop in to visit the museum too.”

Among the artifacts and memorabilia already on hand at the Legion, nine former military uniforms from various eras are encased on the upper walls of the first floor. Each represents a different branch of the military.

A showcase already is formed representing those veterans who served during Operation Dessert Storm in the early 1990s, when the late George H.W. Bush was president of the U.S.

Different swords and enemy military helmets are will be on display.

A “K-rations” meal box that was handed out daily to combat soldiers fighting in World War II is part of the display, showing basic food items, a plastic spoon, matches, chewing gum, different soups, coffee mix, hot chocolate, a chocolate bar, crackers and a cheese spread inside the box.

There’s even an autographed picture of famous American comedian Bob Hope, who provided USO entertainment during World War II, and the Korea and Vietnam wars, on display.

Greg Manning is about to start his second year as post commander. Of the museum project, Manning said, “We’ve been considering this museum for quite a number of years. People have been donating artifacts to us, and we weren’t ready to put them in the showcases, but we’re ready now. I sent a letter out to all our post members asking for donations of artifacts, and there’s been a response. We hope the public that reads about this will also call us if they have something to contribute. Otherwise, it’s just sitting in someone’s attic.”

Manning continued, “Nationally, the American Legion preaches Americanism to our youth. If we have school classes come here to see the museum, we’ll teach them how and why to show respect for the American flag, proper flag etiquette, and even how to fold an American flag. Coming to our Legion will be a hands-on experience in that regard.”

The overall goal is to have all nine showcases completed and ready for display to the public by Veterans Day in November. Call the Centreville Legion at 410-758-3584, leaving a message for P.J. Dill, if you have something you’d be interested in donating or loaning for the museum.

Jeff Davis Post 18 is at 2619 Centreville Road, Centreville.

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