RIVERSIDE (CBSLA) — The members of the American Legion Post 289 in Riverside have been working 16 hours per day for the past six months to renovate their meeting hall.
“I knew when it was coming up that we had to open on Veterans Day — it was a must,” Mike Buchner, post commander, said. “And we had a three-week crunch, and I said, ‘Guys, we gotta get this done.'”
And though the task was next to impossible, the veterans were going to give it their best shot.
“Then the burglary happened, and it just stopped everything,” Buchner said.
Burglars hit the post twice in October, stealing all of their tools and materials. But when the community hear what happened, they showed up ready to work with tools, materials and cash.
“It’s incredibly emotional,” Buchner said.
And against all odds — and with a lot of help — the veterans were able to transform an outdated gathering place just in time for Veterans Day.
“It’s hard to contain ourselves with the outpouring of support,” Robert Rodriguez, post 2nd vice commander, said. “Very hard to contain ourselves, so it’s gonna mean the world to us.”
“To let our members come home on Veterans Day, you know we’re all a big family, and for them to be able to come home on Veterans Day is so awesome,” Buchner said.
Buchner said he is going to frame a newspaper he found in the wall behind the bar from the spring of 1918 — the year World War I ended and the Spanish Flu began.
After working through the night, American Legion Post 289 will hold its big Veterans Day celebration Wednesday at noon.