The American Legion’s online community is growing at an impressive clip, and that makes a lot of sense. If ever there was an organization well-suited for today’s world of high-speed electronic communication and mobilization, it is The American Legion. With nearly 2.5 million members and some 14,000 posts worldwide, our network is vast, sprawling and energetic. Add to that the Sons of The American Legion, the American Legion Auxiliary, Legion Riders, friends and supporters, and you can easily identify more than 4 million people whose lives regularly involve some aspect of the Legion – whether they are interested in a Samsung Scholarship, learning about this year’s Legacy Run, registering online to attend a Hiring Our Heroes job fair or sharing a YouTube video with Facebook friends.
At the post, district, department and national levels, the Legion has worked hard to establish a thriving network of comrades that is growing ever more connected online, through websites, blogs, social and other electronic media. It is difficult to put a number on this audience, but we know that more than 500,000 people per month visit some destination in our online community. There, they can read about our activities, buy Legion merchandise, join or renew, manage membership, watch videos and communicate with one another.
One of our new developments in this arena is a Facebook page designed to unite those who have participated in, or helped with, Legion youth programs. The American Legion Youth Programs Alumni Association promotes networking among those involved or interested in Boys State, Boys Nation, Scouting, oratorical competitions, Junior Shooting Sports, American Legion Baseball, scholarships and other youth activities. These programs come in many shapes, sizes and forms, and we know that tens of thousands of Americans attribute some part of their success to a Legion youth program. As a School Award Medal recipient, I can honestly say that this statement applies to me.
The dues-free association has a dedicated place on the Legion website – www.legion.org/youthalumni – where members can sign up for an e-newsletter to stay up-to-date about the programs, submit personal stories and photos, learn about opportunities to volunteer, or donate to the programs. The “Ask an Alum” feature is for anyone interested in starting, operating or participating in a Legion youth program.
The success of this association, like the best of today’s electronic media, depends on audience interaction. Those who regularly use Facebook, or comment on articles posted at www.legion.org or the Burn Pit blog, understand that stories are often just starting points for conversations among members. Out of these conversations come great ideas, involvement and camaraderie, and that’s the power of interactive media.
That is also why – as we observe April as Children & Youth Month – I am asking everyone who has a stake in our youth programs to visit the Web page to join and learn more, and to find the association on
Facebook. Future generations of youth-program participants depend on us to keep the conversation going.