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Landmark Hollywood American Legion Post Holds Grand Reopening For Members On Memorial Day

Memorial Day at Hollywood American Legion
Sergeant at Arms Quinton Farina, left, and Post 43 Adjutant Joshua Epstein.
(Robert Garrova
/
LAist)
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More than 100 people were expected to attend the Memorial Day ceremony at the “Post of the Stars” clubhouse that sits just a few blocks below the Hollywood Bowl.

It’s the first time since COVID-19 hit that many members of the war veteran’s group have been able to go inside the building, which many describe as their home away from home.

On this day of remembrance Post Adjutant Joshua Epstein said he’d be thinking about his fallen comrade Adam Timothy Fulkerson, who was killed in an IED explosion in Iraq.

“Every year I will set out a drink and sit there and have that drink with Timmy until that drink is gone,” Epstein said.

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Inside Hollywood American Legion's theater on Memorial Day
A look at the inside of American Legion Hollywood Post 43's theater.
(Robert Garrova / LAist )

It’s a pretty beautiful place to have that drink. Founded by Hollywood industry types in 1919, it has pictures of everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Howard Hughes lining the walls.

And the arts are strong in the spirit of the place today.

“The mural on our roof says, ‘Men worthy of honor the muses forbid to die,’” Epstein said. “Which I have always taken to mean, as long as we remember our fallen fellows in art and in song and in stories, that they’ll always be with us,” he said.

Some of those stories will play out at the renovated indoor theater that’s now opening back up at 50 percent capacity.

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“When you walk in there now, you’ll see how it still looks like you’re in a nearly 100-year-old building, but it’s also premier sound design and picture,” said Mike Hjelmstad, a Marine veteran and former post commander.

Hollywood American Legion
Simone Lara and Mike Hjelmstad inside American Legion Post 43 in Hollywood.
(Robert Garrova / LAist )

Assistant Sergeant at Arms Simone Lara said this is also a place where a lot of military families have found community. It’s been very difficult with Post 43 closed over the past year.

“Being able to come back here is incredibly special and we’re just happy to be back home,” Lara said.

Lara and Hjelmstad are excited to soon invite non-members into their home, too. They’ve been combing through hundreds of military artifacts from the post’s archives so that the building can soon open back up as a museum.