William Hungate Award

Charlene McCune, right, vice president of Champ Clark Honey Shuck Restoration Inc., presents the William Hungate Award to Marisa Ellison during the organization’s annual meeting Oct. 24 in Bowling Green. Submitted photo

Honey Shuck banquet raises awareness for military veterans


By Tom Latos


BOWLING GREEN—Champ Clark Honey Shuck Restoration Inc. held their Salute to Veterans in honor of Bennett Clark and the American Legion at their 2019 Annual Banquet, Thursday, Oct. 24 at the historic Honey Shuck house.

The banquet was a night of welcomes, introductions and updates on the impressive progress the American Legion is making. Complimenting the event were the American Legion Color Guards from Post 370, patriotic songs from the group attending, which was lead by the beautiful voice of Karen Arico and the delicious dinner catered by Karen Leverenz, made for a successful event. In addition, Marissa Ellison was presented with the 2019 Hungate Recognition award. The keynote speaker was Ben Clark, the great grandson of Bowling Green’s own Champ Clark.

Not knowing what to expect, I learned the rich and rewarding history of The American Legion and how ordinary men did great things to help their fellow man. It highlighted the real American patriots and heroes that influenced considerable social change in America. The American Legion created benefits for veterans to have a better way of life. The results produced important programs for families, children and youth.

As a fan of history, I was fascinated on how the American Legion evolved. In 1919, The American Legion was chartered by Congress, created as a patriotic veteran’s organization. The focus was on giving back to veterans, service members and the communities, to reward them and their families for the sacrifice they gave. The Legion evolved from a group of war-weary veterans of World War I, and emerged as one of the most influential nonprofit groups in the U.S. The American Legion took the lead role in the drafting and passing the G.I. Bill, and is one of its most rewarding efforts. Membership swiftly grew and local posts sprang up across the country. Today, membership is strong and great work is still being contributed. The Legion is the world’s largest veterans’ organization to date.

The co-creator of the American Legion, Bennett Clark’s role in all this must have been inspired by his political family. He was the son of Champ Clark, the only Missourian to serve as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, as a strong Democratic Leader. Serving in World War I, Bennett Clark had a great concern for the returning soldiers and their return to civilian life. His concern for his fellow soldiers led to the creation of The American Legion, along with the help of other officers, which included Col. Theodore Roosevelt Jr., son of the former U.S. president.

The keynote speaker, Clark, was more than willing to shake my hand before talking about his family’s rich history.

He spoke from the heart, providing a ‘tell it like it is” story on various family members’ stories, specifically of the family’s war efforts. He was honest and even sentimental at times about the trials and tribulations on war. His candor was truly refreshing with the audience, who were glued to him speaking.

The Champ Clark House known as Honey Shuck, is a one of the must-see places in Bowling Green, and the home’s board of directors is on a constant crusade to keep this rich history alive, and they are doing a fantastic job at that.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the post associated with American Legion Color Guard that participated in the ceremony. It was American Legion Post 370.

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