When Sean Powers was first approached about joining The American Legion, he admits he had a wrong impression of the organization. He made sure to give the right one to a group of U.S. Marines attending his post's meeting Nov. 4.
American Legion Post 1870, which meets on board the USS Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York Harbor, served dinner Nov. 4 to the 20 fleet Marines attached to the USS New York (LPD 21), which will be commissioned into the U.S. fleet Nov. 7. Powers, commander of Post 1870, told the Marines that the Legion is not only a veterans service organization, but is also one of the strongest advocates for today's servicemembers.
"When you get people like (Legionnaires), things get done," Powers said. "That's how you get the training you get. That's how you get the tools you get. That's how you get the answers you need.
"But the other side of that is, you have to let us know what you need. We knew what it was 20 years ago, 30 years ago. What (you) need today is a totally different setup. It's a totally different set of tools. You have to tell us that, so that we can push for that."
Powers encouraged the Marines to consider joining the Legion once they finish serving. "The Legion is the guys who came before you," he said. "The future of the Legion is you guys."
The dinner was the idea of Legionnaire Ralph Slane, who for years has been hosting dinners for servicemembers visiting New York City. Slane is also a member of the New York's Commissioning Committee.
"A lot of these guys serving don't have a very good income," Slane said. "I've been blessed with a good income, so I can afford to take these guys out to dinner. And it's important they know that The American Legion is there for them."
Marine Capt. Michael Lorino, a New York native, said the crew's stay in his hometown has gone well. "I think our Marines are quickly realizing how great the people of New York really are," he said. "We didn't necessarily know what to expect when we showed up here the first of November, but I can guarantee you that every Marine here now, along with all the sailors, are enjoying their time here."
Lorino said it's an honor to serve on board a symbol of the United States, like the New York, which was made with about seven tons of steel salvaged from the Twin Towers wreckage. "That ship represents America's determination in the face of adversity," he said. "We commemorate those we lost, and we cherish those that are still with us."