Inspiring a Legion: Soldier’s impact felt, even after death

Published 3:16 pm Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Members of American Legion Post 555 proudly display Matthew Blount's name on their caps. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

Members of American Legion Post 555 proudly display Matthew Blount’s name on their caps. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

A soldier’s legacy

When it came time to name Post 555, there was no question.

“When I proposed (naming the post in Matthew’s honor) to the members, they jumped up and took it from me. They said ‘He is one of our own, and he meets all the criteria,” Barry said. “As a father, I can’t tell you how much that means.”

Those who knew Matthew before he died shared his story with the post members who had never met him, and the vote on the post’s name was unanimous.

“When you’re naming the post, you look to see if it mirrors the Legion’s goals of God and country,” said Post 555 First Vice Commander Kenneth Paschal. “That’s the character Matt had. We could have chosen different people, but he exemplified what we stand for.

“He is someone who persevered under extraordinary circumstances, but didn’t waver in his dedication to God and country,” Paschal added. “We are a family here. We want to have an impact on the community just like he did.”

Matthew’s presence today can also be felt outside Post 555. As his health declined in 2012, Matthew and his wife took steps to ensure their infant daughter, Audrey, would know about her father’s life and love for her.

Each time Audrey reaches a milestone in her life – such as high school graduation or her wedding day – Matthew will be there to celebrate with her.

“He planned out and recorded videos. David is working on getting those together, and will give them to (Audrey) when the time is right,” Barry said. “He always thought about everyone else. He wanted his little girl to know her dad was there every step of the way.”

Along with the Honda Shadow motorcycle in his garage, the videos serve as a tangible, and sometimes emotional, reminder for David.

“I’m in the process of going through the footage, but it’s not an easy thing to do,” David said. “He was a great person. I miss him, but I know I will get to see him again one day.”