Letter from National Commander
To my fellow Legionnaires in Florida,
This is an exciting time for our American Legion. This year, we passed a milestone that very few organizations ever get to accomplish: a centennial. Although we have a truly remarkable history that no organization can match, I like to remember the title of an old song, “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet!”
Our first century demonstrated the power that a large group of veterans can have in shaping national policy and communities from coast-to-coast and even regions overseas. In the early years, these endeavors succeeded without the use of widespread air travel, universal telephones or even national highways.
As we enter our second century, think of what we can accomplish through the use of social media, telecommunications and technologies in store for us that we cannot even begin to fathom. The theme for my year is a foundation for the future. And the main ingredient in the foundation is our membership.
We fought for passage of the LEGION Act not as a membership tool but because of the millions of veterans who served honorably during periods not recognized by Congress. Approximately 1,600 brave men and women were killed or wounded during hostile operations that occurred during those periods from the end of World War II to the beginning of the Gulf War. They too earned the right to be called “Legionnaires.” We would be foolish not to welcome the estimated 4.2 million living veterans from those periods into our ranks. When you consider all of their relatives, our American Legion Family can grow exponentially.
Even as we build a foundation for the future, our founding pillars and values remain the same. In my own shorthand, I like to refer to these pillars as V-DAY – that’s Veterans, Defense, Americanism and Youth.
V-DAY is what you all do every day when members of your department volunteer at the local VA, advocate for the needs of our military, retire an unserviceable American flag, or sponsor a teenager in one of our great youth programs.
I know that your department will continue to explore ways in which The American Legion will continue to serve America by combining our traditional values with a foundation for the future. Have a great conference.
For God & Country,
James W. “Bill” Oxford