Department of Florida

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September 2022

Hello Department of Florida, American Legion Family. I trust you are all doing well. Before I begin, I want to send out a BIG CONGRATULATIONS to the Al Krietemeyer, American Legion Post 284, Baseball Team who represented the Department of Florida at the American Legion World Series in August. An unbelievable group of high schoolers, some of which who just graduated, that did an amazing job representing the Department of Florida. Just in case you didn’t know, American Legion Baseball falls under the Americanism umbrella.

There are a couple topics I want to address with you in this issue. Number one is your “Americanism Program Plan of Attack” and the second is, Flag Etiquette. If you recall, in my introductory article last month, I stated you should develop your “Americanism Program Plan of Attack” by reviewing the Department 2022-2023 Event Timeline and decide how you are going to move forward with the Program or Programs you are going to do this year. On that note, I hope that all the District Americanism Chairs have been reaching out to the respective Post Chairs to aide them with their plan.

So, let’s get down to business, summer is over, and the school year has begun. Yes, the school buses are out, picking up and dropping off children and we are getting reacquainted with excess traffic. Not to mention, having to slow down our speed in school zones, stopping when children are getting on and off the buses; and now we need to add in an extra 20 minutes or so to our commute time. One may say this is annoying, but for the American Legion, this is actually a great time of the year. No, I haven’t lost my mind. You see, the school year is the best time of the year for us in the American Legion. Why? Because this is when we can really make a difference with the delivery of our Americanism Programs. This is when we can ramp up our presence in the schools so that we can engage with the youth of our communities and share our Americanism Program opportunities with School Administrators, Guidance Counselors, Teachers, and Staff.

Getting our foot in the door in September is critical to mission success. During September, we should be contacting local high schools for Boys State and Oratorical Program participants. September also means Shooting Sports Registration and 1st Round Target Sales open. Get into those schools, set up meetings, post American Legion Program information on those School Bulletin Boards. Today’s High Schools have websites, where they post information for the students and parents; they use email and have daily electronic text notices they send out to the student body about upcoming events, programs, scholarships and the like. These are great tools that we should take advantage of to ensure maximum delivery of our Americanism Programs.

Just like your days in uniform, when you had a mission, you developed a Concept of Operation (CONOP). How am I going to accomplish the mission set before me? The same principal applies here. I am not going to limit myself by having only one method of delivery. I am going to have a multiple pronged attack to maximize the delivery or completion of said mission. I believe you get my point and my meaning. What’s your CONOP going to be?

Don’t be dismayed if one teacher or one guidance counselor doesn’t seem receptive to the program you are presenting or that you want them to help with, there are other teachers, there are other avenues of approach. Don’t forget that most high schools have JROTC Units. Now there is a good source for getting your foot in the door. Just trying to give you some ideas to make your Post and District more successful and ultimately, the Department of Florida. So, get out there and make your presence known throughout the schools in your locale.

The second topic I want to address with you is the US Flag. The American Flag is our nation’s most cherished material object. She proudly flies in front of our American Legion Posts’, and we salute her at the beginning and closing of our meetings and we pay her respect at events throughout the year. To each of us who served our “Great Nation”, the US Flag is more than symbolic, it is part of who we are as Veterans, as Americans, and as Legionnaires – she signifies freedom, democracy, and strength.

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve received a few inquiries regarding proper disposal of the US Flag. The American Legion has a prescribed ceremony for the disposal of unserviceable flags, and this is a great opportunity for you to invite your community to view and take part in the ceremony. Invite local officials, invite local Scout Troops and JROTC Units to assist with the ceremony. This is just another forum for us to maximize our community engagement to promote Americanism. Now, if you are like may Posts’, that receive too many flags throughout the year and must do multiple ceremonies throughout the year – that is fine and acceptable. Just ensure you conduct the ceremony in a profession and respectful manner.

I’ve also been called and asked if the flag can still be flown if it has accidentally touched the ground or can a flag be washed. These are all good questions… And the answer to both questions is YES. Having been asked these questions, I did some additional research and retrieved some information that I want to share with you directly from The American Legion. All you need to do is get online and type in the URLs I have provided below, that will provide you with definitive information.

I hope that I haven’t bored you or lost your interest. I want to ensure I am providing helpful, valuable information to you. If you have a question or there is a subject, you would like addressed within the Americanism realm please reach out to me at .
Finally, I want to reiterate as I stated last month, that I am honored to be your Americanism Chair for 2022-2023 and I look forward to a great program year whereby we promote Americanism to the maximum extent possible. Remember each of us in the Department of Florida American Legion have the ability to make a positive impact on the youth of today. Hang Tough!

Doug Hockenberry
Americanism Chair