World War II hadn’t even begun when Evelyn McConlogue became a member of the American Legion as a child.
Last Wednesday, the East Marion resident was awarded the 75 year Continuous Service Award by Suffolk County American Legion Ladies Auxiliary president Patricia Bianculli.
Ms. McConlogue, who turns 86 this week, has actually been a member of the American Legion for 77 years, having joined the junior group with her sister Connie, when it was first introduced in her native Ozone Park, Queens.
“Some women are saying I’m probably the longest serving member,” Ms. McConlogue said. “I’m not sure.”
While she certainly holds the record for length of service in her own family, she points to her late father, Joe Smith, as the person who most deserves to be championed.
“He was the real hero,” she says of her dad, who was shot below the knee while serving in the Army during World War I and lived with the effects of his injury for the rest of his life. After the war, he and Ms. McConlogue’s mother, Ruth Smith, became very active in the American Legion in Queens and they encouraged their two daughters to participate.
Ms. McConlogue said she played in the American Legion band for 10 years.
With her entire family active in the American Legion during World War II, she said they did whatever they could for people impacted by the war.
“Some people lived through that period and their lives were hardly touched,” the ninth-generation Long Islander said. “My family lived the war.”
Ms. McConlogue and her husband Daniel built their home in East Marion in the 1970s, and they became active in the Southold American Legion after coming to live here full-time 15 years ago. Mr. McConlogue, also a military veteran, stressed how important it is for the current generation of veterans to get involved with the American Legion.
“Everyone’s dying,” he said of past generations of legion volunteers. “We need young guys to get involved.”