SHIRLEY — The executive board of the Shirley American Legion Post No. 183 has recommended that Cmdr. Lewis Criess no longer lead the branch after the annual election, scheduled for May 6, according to Legion member Norman Albert.
Albert said the executive board, of which he is not a member, voted last week to recommend to its members that Criess not remain as the commander after the annual Legion meeting May 6.
Albert, a member of the Legion, said members have been made aware of the decision, and said all Legion members meet May 6. He said the formal recommendation to them will be made at that point, and members will vote on the recommendation.
He would not say Monday if he supports the recommendation.
Criess came under fire after he wrote a letter to selectmen, dated April 6, that said due to a decrease in active membership, the Legion would not host the annual Memorial Day parade and reception.
In his letter, Criess indicated it was the town’s turn to take over the financial burden associated with the parade and lunch.
Traditionally, the Legion has held a day of events on Memorial Day, including a wreath-laying ceremony and the playing of taps at all town cemeteries, followed by the parade and ceremonies at Whiteley Park that include veteran speakers.
In his letter, Criess said the Legion will have a brief ceremony at the cemeteries, but that is the extent of its involvement this year.
“We hope the town will plan and conduct these activities, remembering the importance of and the solemn occasion of the day to honor those who gave their lives during combat operations in defense of our country,” the letter reads.
The town’s War Memorial Building could be used to host any lunch gathering, he wrote, and the town should notify the Legion as soon as possible so the building can be reserved. He also wrote that the town would be responsible for all event setup and cleaning.
Criess signed the letter on behalf of the executive committee and Post membership.
Selectman Kendra Dumont said there will be a number of people coming to the selectmen’s meeting Tuesday night offering to help plan the Memorial Day activities in the Legion’s absence.
“I’ve gotten tons of phone calls from people saying they want to volunteer,” Dumont said. “People were pretty upset there wouldn’t be a parade. I think this year, afterwards, we’re going to form a parade and celebration committee just so we can be prepared next year and do it up a little better.”
A man answering the phone Monday at the Legion declined to give his name but said no vote had been taken to remove Criess from the commander’s position.
Criess did not return calls seeking comment Monday.
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