At the end of the First World War, the victors gathered in Paris, France for the signing of the documents that officially end the war. During this time, there were other meetings occurring which led to the founding and establishment of what would become the American Legion (although it would be several more years before the United States Congress would approve the organization). At those early meetings in Paris, there was an enlisted man named Walter Durkee.
After World War I, Walter returned home to the Grand Rapids, Michigan area to do what so many other young American men and the women across America had been doing. That was to get on with their lives. As much as he could, Walter remained active in those early days in the development of the America Legion.
With the combination of his out-going and caring personality, Walter came to be employed by one of the leaders in the Grand Rapids business world. Mr. Blodgett needed a committed individual to assure that not only himself, but also his family would be safe when traveling around the Greater Grand Rapids area, in his newly acquired automobile. Unknown to both of these individuals, their coming together would be the base of the later creation of the American Legion Post 311.
As part of their daily travels and conversions, Mr. Blodgett and Walter found a shared interest in providing a place for the War Veterans to gather. Walter’s long interest in the American Legion and his participation likely steered their discussions. The outcome of these conversations led to Walter and several of his Veteran friends applying for the creation of an additional American Legion Post in the Greater Grand Rapids area.
As the process of application continued, Mr. Blodgett suggested that if the Veterans committed to placing the new Post in East Grand Rapids, he would provide a site for the new Post. With time, the application was approved and led to the creation of American Legion Post 311, East Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Walter Durkee’s involvement in the Post from the earliest days was clear. Walter, ever the caring individual, worked with each individual member of the new Post to ensure their involvement and comfort in understanding of the many positions of the American Legion.
After the end of the Second World War, Walter Durkee was one of the leaders in pushing the United States Congress’ approval in adding those Veterans to be part of the membership to the America Legion. Once approved, Walter was quick to push Post 311 to encourage the inclusion of these new Veterans to become members of the Post. The same was true after the conclusion of the Korean Conflict.
When the Vietnam Conflict ended, he was the first to push for their inclusion, even when there was heavy opposition to not allow that new group to be part of the America Legion. Walter lived just long enough to see the Vietnam Veterans to be included as part of the America Legion. On the date of their approval by the United States Congress, Walter had several Veterans ready to sign-up.
Upon Walter’s passing, there was not a single member that had not been directly affected by his out-going and caring personality. Walter truly represented then and still to this very day, the Heart of Walter Durkee - Post 311. Having his name define Post 311 states the commitment of Post 311 to welcoming members of new conflicts and once they join, surrounding them with the out-going, caring aspect that is Walter Durkee…