The following ran as an editorial in the July 24 Duxbury (Mass.) Clipper. The author is a longtime newspaper columnist and a 20-year member of Post 76, Jamaica Plain, Mass.
A Remarkable Continuation
Sara Megan Lansing stepped down last month after more than two years as commander of American Legion Post #223 in Duxbury. Therein lies a remarkable continuation one family's remarkable service to the nation, to Duxbury and to Post #223.
Sara Lansing's great-great-great grandfather, Zelotus Prince of Marshfield, served four years in the Civil War. His son, Warren Prince, was one of Duxbury's first police officers. Warren's son, Walter Prince, served as an army officer during World War I, and was commander of Post #223 in 1930. Walter Prince is well-remembered as the owner of the Pontiac dealership and automobile repair business on St. George Street, and as the master of moving houses threatened with demolition. Walter's son, Richard "Dickie" Prince, served in the Navy during World War II and was commander of Post #223 in 1962. Richard's nephew, Ted Prince (Ms. Lansing's uncle), served in the Army in Vietnam.
Ms. Lansing is thus the third member of her family to be commander of Post #223. Her own service began with her graduation from Duxbury High School in 2000, when she enlisted in the Army National Guard's 1058'th Transportation Company, based in Hingham. After basic training (nine weeks) and truck-driving school (four months) she was released to reserve duty -- traditionally a weekend a month and two weeks of "summer camp." As a reservist she volunteered for one month's duty working security at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
In February 2003, with the invasion of Iraq a month away, the 1058'th Transportation Company was called to active duty on the Friday of a drill weekend. Soldiers remained in the armory, except for half a day to take care of their personal business, until Wednesday, when they were shipped to Fort Drum, N.Y.
After two months at Fort Drum the unit was sent to Kuwait. At first there were short forays into Iraq. Then the unit went to a permanent base in Tikrit, which was built from scratch. Soldiers worked for eight days, then had four days off. As a transportation unit the 1058'th saw many parts of the country. Sergeant E-6 Lansing swam in the pool in one of Saddam Hussein's palaces. She liked being mobile, despite the danger. Driving into Fallujia, she says, was the scariest.
There was no Internet in Tikrit, and a lot of whiffle ball was played during down time. But there were also lifelong friendships made. Sgt. Lansing came home for two weeks' leave at Christmas in 2003. But leaving after leave was more wrenching for her and her family than leaving the first time. If she had it to do over again, she would serve the war-zone tour without interruption.
When her 16-month active-duty tour ended Sgt. Lansing spent a month in Florida, then returned to Duxbury. She remained in the National Guard until 2009 -- volunteering for border security in El Centro, California, during summer camps in 2008 and 2009. Her involvement at Post #223 began with an invitation to speak to the members. She joined the Post in 2006 and became Post commander in 2011.
Other duty may have called with the birth of Matthew in 2009 and Nicole in 2010. Ms. Lansing continues to manage the bar at the Post, but is otherwise a stay-at-home mom with her two-year-old and soon-to-be four-year-old.
Sarah Lansing is proud of her family's service to country, town and Post, and proud as a woman to have served and sacrificed in what some in her family might have taken to be men's work. Her commitment to Post #223, and to the charitable missions that are the American Legion's reason for existing, go on. At Post #223 these include blood drives, scholarships and the baseball team the Post has sponsored since 1926. To maintain these, she believes the Post needs more members than its current roll of 180.
Ms. Lansing can be counted on to toil for the Post, town and country in the future. Women of her generation know what they are capable of. If their ambition can be heightened by service to others, and their response to injustice tempered by good will and common sense, the future of America in the 21st century is well assured.
--D.A. Mittell, Jr.
D.A. Mittell Jr.