Any Legionnaire can impact the priorities and positions of The American Legion, at any level, because the organization’s focus is largely directed by resolutions - position-driven initiatives written by members and put to a vote. They can be passed at a local post meeting, on a local matter, or at the National Convention or an NEC meeting, on a topic that could end up shaping national Legion policy. Although departments can originate their own resolutions to pass on to the national level, even post-level resolutions can lead to permanent national Legion policies and programs. Boys State, for instance, began as a local initiative in Illinois. The optimal time to write them is in winter and spring, ahead of department conventions in late spring and summer.
At its core, a resolution is a written description of a situation that impacts some facet of The American Legion’s mission, followed by a suggestion as to how to affect it. A number of considerations come into play when deciding to write a resolution, such as whether or not a position or action has already been taken, its actual workability, if the matter can be settled administratively, and its political sensitivity. Each resolution should cover only one subject.
Resolutions consist of two parts, which must be written precisely for the resolution to be allowed to move forward. The first is the preamble, or, the description of the situation.
- One or more clauses, each beginning with “WHEREAS,” give facts that support and justify the resolution.
- The beginning of every phrase after that is always capitalized.
- Two or more clauses are joined by a semicolon and the word “and”.
- The final clause of the preamble ends with a semicolon and the phrase “now, therefore, be it”.
The second part is the resolving clause, a statement of how the targeted level of the Legion should address the situation. Keep in mind that the entire resolution is one continuous sentence – the preamble ends with a semicolon, not a period. “...be it” is followed directly by the resolving clause.
- The resolving clause begins with “RESOLVED”, followed by a comma and the phrase “By [the targeted level, whether Post 17, the Department of Indiana or The American Legion] in [meeting or National Convention] assembled at [the location of the meeting, city and state, followed by the date of the meeting],”
- After these details, insert a comma and capitalize the beginning of the next phrase, which is a clear and succinct statement of a position or action The American Legion should take.
- If more than one action is needed as part of the statement, begin subsequent phrases with a semicolon, then “and be it FURTHER RESOLVED” and the last one with a semicolon, then “and be it FINALLY RESOLVED”.
A comprehensive booklet, with much more detail on how to format a resolution, can be downloaded at no cost here, or from the Resolutions page. The page also contains a listing of resolutions presented at recent National Conventions and NEC meetings. An example of a recently passed resolution can be found here. The level for which the resolution is meant will determine deadlines for consideration. Each department can inform members about specific steps that must be taken for that department. If the resolution is meant to be approved on the national level, to affect The American Legion as a whole, it must still be approved at either the department convention or by the department’s executive committee, and certified as such by the department adjutant. A directory of departments is available here.