By Sterling McGinn

The Hugh Allan MacInnes American Legion Post 74 of Newberry will soon be home to a chapter of the American Legion Riders (ALR).

The ALR is part of the American Legion organization and is open to Legionnaires, Auxiliary, and Sons of the American Legion members who enjoy motorcycle ownership and pleasure riding for veteran’s causes.

The American Legion Post 74 executive board recently voted to form a local chapter here and it was the idea of current post commander Leo Saint Germain. Saint Germain has headed up the Newberry post since April of this year and has been a member of the Legion and the Riders organization for approximately five years.

“I have been a member of the Sault Chapter of Riders, and they have problems getting members because of the distance,” said Saint Germain. “I decided to cut the distance in half. We have people from Engadine and other areas that would like to join, but they don’t want to run to the Sault once a month for a meeting.”

Saint Germain spent a year researching the idea and the chapter will officially start here in Newberry in January of 2024. “During the first couple of meetings, we will need to get our by-laws in order and get our meeting dates and first officers appointed,” he said. “I have 12 riders joining so far.”

The first year will consist of getting the chapter organized.

Any individual who is a member of the American Legion family, who is a motorcyclist, can join the Newberry chapter. “We can take them from any post as long as they are a Legion Rider,” Saint Germaine said. Members have to own a motorcycle that is licensed and insured.

Spouses of ALR members, who are not already members of the Legion family, can be a passenger on organization rides.

“Most Legion posts allow Legion Rider supporters,” he explained. “If we have Sons of the American Legion members, or Auxiliary, that want to participate in some of the events, they can wear the colors with ‘supporter’ underneath, so they really don’t have to have a motorcycle to be part of it.”

ALR chapters are well known for charitable work. There are currently more than 150,000 members in more than 2,100 chapters in the U.S. and in at least three foreign countries.

The American Legion Riders were formed in Michigan in 1993 at the American Legion Post 396 in Garden City, Michigan, and has evolved to a national program.

Since 2014, the ALR has raised approximately $1 million annually for the American Legion Legacy Scholarship. “They will do an escort for a local soldier who was killed in action and is returning to their hometown,” said Saint Germain. “We do parades or any event that is veteran related.”

Saint Germain said that anyone who would like to become a member of the new chapter, or has any questions, can contact the Newberry American Legion at (906)-293-8711 or message the American Legion Post 74 and Saint Germain will personally message you.

“We look forward to have people join,” he said.