Eleventh annual Legion College under way
Past National Commander Robert Spanogle addresses The American Legion College Class of 2009. Photo by James V. Carroll

Eleventh annual Legion College under way

Addressing the 11th meeting of the annual American Legion College, Past National Commander and Legion College chancellor Butch Miller had a message for the 51 attendees: have a purpose for being there.

“(National Commander) Clarence Hill once attended the Legion College,” Miller said. “Does that mean you’re going to rise to that level? I don’t know. It all depends upon you. Being at this college doesn’t guarantee you anything.”

Miller, who served as national commander from 1998-1999, stressed to the students the importance of staying levelheaded and applying wisely the knowledge gained from the Legion College, which began Oct. 25.

“I always tell the students to go back to their department and take the job no one wants,” Miller said. “Don’t go back home thinking you’re going to run the department.”

Known for being the first national commander to have a computer by his side, Miller told students that they should embrace Internet social media and use it to broadcast the Legion’s accomplishments to the public. He said Legionnaires everywhere should use tools like Twitter and Facebook to help the Legion modernize itself and the way it relays its message.

“We can change,” Miller said. “You are going to be (changing), and you are an instrument of that change.”

National Adjutant Daniel S. Wheeler also addressed the Legion College on Monday morning. Wheeler stayed on Miller’s topic, outlining the future of the organization’s media division, which includes launching a newly designed Web site to accompany the Legion’s ‘Burnpit’ blog, Twitter and Facebook page. Wheeler also stressed the importance of social media, saying Legionnaires everywhere should embrace it and publicize their accomplishments with it.

“For the first time in history, we don’t have to rely on the media to get the message out. The message is in our hands,” Wheeler said.

But, with the advent of new media, Wheeler said Legionnaires can’t begin to ignore simple membership in-person retention tactics, like developing a rapport with new members and making them feel comfortable.

“All this high-tech stuff is great, but it’s the high-touch stuff that gets the job done,” Wheeler said.