(INDIANAPOLIS—July 19, 2021) –The head of the nation’s largest veterans organization warned Congress that the American people will “be furious,” if partisan gridlock causes a shutdown of the National Guard and delayed paychecks for its soldiers.
“Congress and the White House need to act immediately to ensure that our National Guard is fully funded and its members compensated for all of their drills, missions and deployments. Have they already forgotten the thousands of National Guard members who protected the Capitol during civil unrest just a few months ago? Or the crucial role of our National Guard members in America’s response to COVID-19?” American Legion National Commander James W. “Bill” Oxford asked. “The American Legion spoke loudly two years ago when partisan bickering led to an in interruption of the Coast Guard being paid. We stepped up and provided more than $1 million of grants to help hundreds of Coast Guard families, but Congress still has failed to pass the Pay Our Coast Guard Act. Moreover, it isn’t the job of private nonprofit organizations to pay the military. As Americans, we should all demand that Congress never repeats that mistake.
“We are not simply talking about bureaucracies,” Oxford continued. “We are talking about families. The men and women of the National Guard have living expenses, bills due and other financial obligations that cannot be put on hold while politicians argue. The volunteers who defend America deserve better.”
WASHINGTON (July 8, 2021) – Calling the Taliban “the enemy of all human rights,” American Legion National Commander James W. “Bill” Oxford expressed his organization’s “deep disappointment” that the White House isn’t offering a better plan to evacuate interpreters, family members and other Afghan allies who closely assisted U.S. military troops during the war.
“We welcome an end to ‘forever wars,’ but withdrawal must be conducted in an orderly and honorable manner. This falls short on both counts. Abandonment of those who assisted us is literally an issue of life or death,” Oxford said. “Any veteran who has worked with Afghan interpreters will tell you how valuable these brave heroes were to our mission there. It is precisely because of their dedication to our cause that they are primary targets for barbaric retribution by Taliban terrorists. Their families are also targets. They have already undergone extensive security screening and further processing can occur in Guam or other region safely out of harm’s way. It is a moral imperative that we offer them immediate and safe passage away from the enemy and to the United States. If we abandon such friends, how could we expect any assistance by potential allies in future missions?
“The president said today that his administration approved 2,500 Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) for Afghan nationals since January 20,” Oxford said. “Yet estimates of the backlog run as high as 18,000. If you include close family members, the administration should be prepared to quickly evacuate as many as 70,000. We saved many more lives when we left Vietnam, and even that wasn’t enough when you consider how many were left behind and slaughtered after our departure. A great nation such as the United States does not abandon its friends.”
Oxford also lamented that time is running out, in spite of the letters that he sent to President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken in April which raised alarms about the dangers faced.
“The American Legion passed a national resolution in 2018 asking the president and Congress to prioritize SIVs for our Afghan and Iraqi allies,” Oxford said. “This is not a new or recent issue. The American Legion is calling on the White House to immediately institute a better plan and evacuate our friends now. Delay means death for many of these brave people.”
Memorial Day is a solemn day of remembrance observed the last Monday of May each year, honoring members of the United States Armed Forces who died while in service of the United States of America. This year Memorial Day is observed on Monday, May 31. In accordance with the U.S. Flag Code [U.S.C. Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 7(m)], on Memorial Day the flag of the United States is to be displayed at half-staff from sunrise until noon only, then raised briskly to the top of the staff.
The president of the United States has issued a proclamation for display of the United States flag at half-staff until sunset on May 30, 2021, as a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless act of violence perpetrated on May 26, 2021, in San Jose, Calif.
INDIANAPOLIS (May 24, 2021) – A central Florida television station, an Illinois newspaper and a popular website will receive The American Legion’s Fourth Estate Award during the 102nd National Convention of the nation’s largest veterans organization in Phoenix, on September 2.
The Fourth Estate Award has been presented annually by The American Legion since 1958 for outstanding achievement in the field of journalism. Nominations in 2021 were considered in three categories: broadcast, print and online media. They were selected by the organization’s Media & Communications Commission earlier this month and announced today.
Taking top honor in the broadcast category is the ABC Action News (WFTS-TV) I-Team in Tampa, Fla. In a comprehensive series titled “The Price of Protection…Problems with Court-Ordered Guardianship,” the E.W. Scripps-owned station examined problems with many of Florida’s court-ordered guardians who victimize vulnerable seniors while profiting from their care. The reporting is believed to have influenced the firing of an agency head by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and reforms passed by the state’s legislature.
Daily Herald of Arlington, Heights, Ill., is being recognized in the print category for its series articles about deceased veterans who died with no relatives willing to arrange funerals. The articles quickly went viral, prompting hundreds of people from the Chicago area to show support and attend memorial services for the veterans, which included military honors.
The Fourth Estate Online Media Award is going to Military.com, a previous recipient of the award. Reporter Gina Harkins was the first to report of a Marine Corps proposal to close its recruit depot at Parris Island, S.C. The proposal was short-lived as several members of South Carolina’s congressional delegation voiced strenuous opposition to any plan that would close the historic facility. Rep. Joe Wilson cited Military.com’s reporting as a direct cause of The Parris Island Protection Act.
“The American Legion has always respected important role of a free press,” said James W. “Bill” Oxford, national commander of The American Legion. “The American Legion would not be nearly as effective without media coverage of our positions and programs on the national and community level. The Fourth Estate Awards represent the best of the best. These award winners are being recognized for outstanding works of journalism that not only stand far above normal media reporting, but have also resulted in outcomes that have positively impacted the lives of people and issues. Our 2021 award winners reflect that. These committed journalists have devoted long, hard hours into investigating, researching, writing and producing reports that have truly made a difference.
“I will be honored to present each of these deserving recipients with our highest recognition of journalistic accomplishment, The American Legion Fourth Estate Award, at our national convention this summer,” Oxford said. “They are all credits to their profession.”
Previous winners of the award include CNN, CBS, USA Today, ABC News, C-SPAN, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and Life Magazine, among others.
This year Americans are observing both Peace Officers Memorial Day and Armed Forces Day on Saturday, May 15th. Peace Officers Memorial Day gives honor to peace officers who have died, or who have been disabled, in the line of duty. Armed Forces Day pays tribute to the men and women serving in our nation’s military. The U.S. Flag Code is a codification of rules and customs pertaining to the display of the flag of the United States for use by civilians or civilian groups/organizations as may not be required to conform with regulations promulgated by executive departments of the government of the United States. In accordance with U.S.C. Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 7(m) of the U.S. Flag Code, the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff on Peace Officers Memorial Day unless that day is also Armed Forces Day. The American Legion encourages Americans to display the flag of the United States on May 15, 2021, to honor the patriotic service of the United States military, while also pausing with bowed head to give remembrance to those peace officers and their families having made the ultimate sacrifice.
Congratulations to Johnny Castro and Bruce Carl for placing 1st in their categories and to Dennis Mallon for placing 2nd in his category. We appreciate your hard work and dedication!
From National: The Race-to-the-Top competition has concluded. The first place winners in each category will receive a trip to the 2021 national convention along with their guest. Second place winners will receive a $500 check for their efforts and third place winners will receive a check for $375. We would like to congratulate the following district commanders on a job well done.
The American Legion Department of Indiana currently has a position available for a Department Adjutant. We offer competitive pay and benefits for the right candidate and will be accepting applications until June 15th, 2021. Please send your resume to The American Legion Department of Indiana, 5440 Herbert Lord Road, Indianapolis, Indiana 46216.