Dear American Legion Family Members and Friends,
This is a holiday season like none other. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken more than 320,000 Americans from their loved ones and sickened 18 million more. It has interrupted our daily lives and foisted social-distancing regulations upon us in order to stop the spread from worsening. These important measures have often led to isolation and loneliness for veterans and their families.
Yet, there is hope.
Vaccines are now being administered. While it will take most of 2021 to inoculate the majority of Americans, this scientific advancement has immense potential.
And, of course, the celebrations of Christmas, Hanukkah and the new year stir feelings of hope, rebirth and joy. After a tumultuous 2020, we could all use a fresh start.
Personally, I have found hope on a daily basis as I have read and heard about how American Legion posts are going above and beyond to serve their communities this year. There are countless stories about how posts are providing food to community members in need, performing Buddy Checks to connect with at-risk veterans, organizing safe blood donation drives, celebrating milestones in veterans’ lives and so much more.
Don’t forget that at this time of the year depression sinks in for many, including veterans who find themselves alone. With the pandemic limiting travel and visitation at this time of celebration, there will likely be many more veterans who are isolated at the holidays. This is an excellent opportunity for American Legion members to reach out and perform Buddy Checks with these veterans. A simple phone call will go a long way in brightening a veteran’s day. A helpful Buddy Check kit can be downloaded here.
Perhaps emboldened by the season of giving, American Legion members are continuing to serve their communities. I’ve noticed a steady flow of terrific examples that continued this past weekend, including:
In Albany, Ore., members of Post 10 stood in the rain for three hours handing out Christmas presents to 1,350 children under the age of 12.
In Somerville, N.J., American Legion Post 12 helped place 1,500 wreaths on veterans’ gravesites as part of Wreaths Across America day on Dec. 19.
Other posts also participated, including Post 278 in the Department of Maryland, where Nikki Randolph and other members delivered the “ultimate honor.”
In the mountains of Arizona, American Legion Post 86 in Heber-Overgaard conducted its annual remembrance event.
And across the nation, American Legion Family members joined in the commemoration.
I’d encourage you to share how your post is serving your community during the holidays, or as we continue to fight COVID-19. Visit legiontown.org to share these wonderful stories.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your selfless service that improves the lives of veterans, children, their families and the communities in which they live.
In this unique time in our lives, I wish you and your loved ones good health, a very Merry Christmas, a belated Happy Hanukkah and a bright New Year.
For God and country,
James W. “Bill” Oxford