Ray Pilgrim and other members of American Legion Post 43 in Jackson rehearse their honor guard routine in the historic log building before Veterans Day ceremonies on the Town Square on Nov. 11. Pilgrim, 74, who served in the U.S. Coast Guard, wears the post’s uniform sweater and envelope cap as he hefts a 9-pound, eight-round, .30 caliber semi-automatic Garand M1 rifle used in WWII and Korea, a standard U.S. military honor guard firearm. (Angus M. Thuermer Jr./WyoFile)

The honor guard duties for members of American Legion Post 43 are less extensive on Veterans Day than they are on Memorial Day. There’s only one ceremony on Nov. 11, compared to Memorial Day when the guard visits three cemeteries and fires 21-gun salutes at three other locations.

But the man- and woman-power is harder to come by in Wyoming’s November when many of the snowbirds have flown. Nevertheless, Post 43 produced a full complement of six honor guard riflemen, an honor guard riflewoman, a standard bearer, and a speaker. All wore colors, uniforms or badges of their respective arms of service.

It’s tough recruiting members to the post, member Ray Pilgrim, 74, pictured above, said. Wyoming has provided post members with a list of county veterans who have taken advantage of veterans’ tax exemptions. But Pilgrim’s certain there are many more who live in the area who aren’t on that list.

“You cannot really get that information from the federal government anywhere,” he said.

The post has approximately 118 members and participates in parades, sponsors a kids’ baseball team, handles funeral honors, offers scholarships, and renders aid to fellow veterans. “We are there in case a veteran calls and needs help with directions, if they need a ticket somewhere, or directions to Orville’s shelter,” Pilgrim said.

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The group meets in an historic log building built by in the 1920s by the post, which was formed in 1920 by WW I veterans. It served as Jackson’s first library, as an elementary school classroom, and as a community meeting hall where a congressional hearing on the contentious expansion of Grand Teton National Park was held.

Some community events, including military reunions and a wounded-warriors gathering, are still accommodated in the cabin. “We don’t have big, rowdy dances in there,” Pilgrim said.

The post is launching a project to refurbish the war memorial on the Town Square. “There’s not enough room on it for more names,” Pilgrim said.

Angus M. Thuermer Jr.

Angus M. Thuermer Jr. is the natural resources reporter for WyoFile. He is a veteran Wyoming reporter and editor with more than 35 years experience in Wyoming. Contact him at angus@wyofile.com or (307)...

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