Nearly 300 amateur radio operators from around the country contacted The American Legion Amateur Radio Club (TALARC) in celebration of the 93rd birthday of the nation's largest veterans organization.
Members of the club — Legionnaires who are licensed radio amateurs — used shortwave bands and the Internet Radio Linking Project to take congratulatory calls from fellow hams across the continent. Each contact earned the caller a colorful, collectible certificate commemorating the event.
"Special Event Stations are not unusual in the ham radio world, but this event was historic for us since it was the first time our club has run a special event station since we came into existence last year," said Marty Justis, president of TALARC. "Club members and nonmembers alike from around the country patiently waited to make contact with our station at National Headquarters; the call sign, K9TAL, stands for K9 — ‘The American Legion'."
Many provided their post name and number as they called in, and several had set up operating stations outside their post home to demonstrate amateur radio while celebrating the Legion's birthday.
"It was a great way to have fun, enjoy a great hobby and celebrate the Legion's 93rd birthday simultaneously," Justis said.
But there is a more serious side to ham radio, which has as a slogan, "When all else fails." Hams are known for their ability to set up and step in when normal communications, such as cell phone towers, electrical power and phones, are knocked out by severe weather or man-made disasters. Given the motto of Legionnaires — "Still Serving America" — the connection to amateur radio by licensed members of the Legion family is a perfect addition to the public service provided by so many posts across the country.
Any FCC-licensed member of The American Legion, the American Legion Auxiliary or Sons of The American Legion, can join TALARC and receive an attractive membership card at no cost. Just visit www.legion.org/hamradio  and click on "Join TALARC."