Dear American Legion Family Members and Friends,
While it is true that Memorial Day is the day that we traditionally honor America’s fallen heroes, Veterans Day is the time that we honor all who have worn the uniform. It does not exclude any veteran, especially those “known but to God.”
I am particularly proud of the intertwined history between The American Legion and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. The tomb’s very existence was the result of the advocacy of U.S. Rep. Hamilton Fish, R-N.Y., an American Legion founder.
Dedicated on Nov. 11, 1921, The American Legion soon lobbied for a 24/7 military sentry at the Tomb, an honor that continues today. The American Legion marked our organization’s 50th anniversary in 1969 by raising more than $200,000 to light the Tomb at night. This week has been especially significant at the Tomb. For the first time, the public has been allowed to bypass the protective chains at this hallowed ground and lay individual flowers. It is a powerful message that America does not forget its veterans.
I was elected national commander on the platform of No Veteran Left Behind. This includes not just the unknowns from wars past, but the living as well. We must do everything possible to prevent veterans from taking their own lives, a cause of death that continues to exceed those we have lost in combat over recent years. We must continue to provide opportunity and hope for those battered by the COVID-19 economy. We must advocate for quality health care for all veterans and compensation to those sickened as a result of military toxic exposures.
Veterans Day discounts at restaurants and businesses are always appreciated. But the real gamechanger is the camaraderie that we enjoy with each other. Veterans Day is the perfect opportunity to conduct a “Buddy Check.” A simple “how-are-you-doing?” can go a long way in reminding our brothers and sisters who served that they are valued members of our special community.
All who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces swore an oath to protect our country with their lives. Approximately, one million of them died in U.S. wars dating back to the Revolution. It is up to all of us to provide a nation worthy of such sacrifice and service. We must remember this commitment on Veterans Day and every other day. This is why we have an American Legion.
No Veteran Left Behind,
Paul E. Dillard, National Commander