Sweeney Post 2 History
The History of Henry J. Sweeney Post #2
Since the few veterans of World War I banded together a short time after the American Legion came into existence in 1919, Henry J. Sweeney Post has grown to be the largest American Legion Post in the State of New Hampshire. Since its beginning, Henry J. Sweeney Post has been continuously interested in child welfare, veteran’s rehabilitation and has been a leader in the community of Manchester for a better citizenry aimed at developing the citizens of tomorrow through those who devote themselves to the principles and ideals of the American way of life.
Sweeney Post is well known nationally in Legion circles. Its baseball program, started in 1928, achieved national fame with the team reaching state, regional, sectional and national play over the years and also for hosting the 1932, 1942 and 1968 World Series. Our Drum and Bugle Corp was one of the country’s finest and displayed their superb talent at numerous national conventions from Boston to San Francisco.
Our Auxiliary unit has always been progressive and supportive with numerous civic accomplishments (first Auxiliary in the state, 1936 flood disaster, Centennial celebration 1946, volunteering at the VA Hospital) just to name a few.
Many Sweeney Post members attained national and international fame. Frank Knox and John L. Sullivan became Secretaries of the Navy at crucial times in our history. James F. O’Neil became national commander of the American Legion in 1948. Atty. Maurice Devine was responsible for the passing of the GI Bill of Rights.
Five members were Past Commanders of the State American Legion, Frank Knox first State Commander in 1919, John L. Sullivan 1937-1938, George Hickey 1942-1943, Lawrence Walker 1948-1949, Charles Devine 1956-1957 and Honorary State Commander James F. O’Neil 1975-1976. Many more could be named but those that deserve the greatest credit are the members whose effort and sacrifice made Henry J. Sweeney Post a household name in the Legion community.
On The Move
In 1951, a site and building committee was named by the Commander John Gimas. Past Commander James A. Sweeney was appointed chairman, assisted by Wilfred Messier, also a past commander. The search produced a beautiful and lavish new building with a large upstairs hall for post and community affairs located on Middle Street in downtown Manchester, NH. The sale was completed in 1954 while Atty Sam Green was serving as Commander. Commander Green and Ellsworth Roukey, another past commander, served as dedication chairmen for one of the most colorful events in the history of Sweeney Post.
The new home on Middle St was dedicated May 14-16, 1954. Also in June of that year, the State Convention was held the first time in Manchester, NH since 1938 and many meetings were held at the new Sweeney Post Home.
Sweeney Post grew in strength and numbers and as the years went by into the seventies, the membership began to feel the weight of maintaining such a huge downtown building with a lack of adequate parking facilities. The membership decided to once again look for a more favorable location. The 1973 Commander Philip Hiland, named four past commanders, John McGranahan, Chairman, Walter Boardman, Aime Couture and John Gimas as the 1974 building committee members.
The new home was constructed on Maple Street opposite Gill Stadium on what was formally known as the Circus Grounds and was opened in February 1975 and dedicated on Friday, May 2, 1975 by the then commander, Dr. John W. Sweeney.
Today the responsibilities are borne by the veterans of World War II, Korean War, Viet Nam, the Persian Gulf conflict and the ongoing War on Terror. Most recently, the Sons of the American Legion (SAL), organized in 1987, have been a big help to the old timers by helping with athletics, dinners, membership, dances and Veterans Affairs.
The continued success of Henry J. Sweeney Post #2 depends entirely on active membership, participation and volunteerism. This organization belongs to the people it serves and the city in which it thrives.