Resolution No. 1, brought forth by The American Legion's National Americanism Commission Wednesday afternoon during the National Executive Committee (NEC) meetings in Indianapolis, received applause and unanimous approval.
The resolution, in part, reaffirms the Legion's "unwavering support for the American way of life" under the U.S. Constitution; it "urges Americans and freedom-loving peoples everywhere to stand united in their respect" for each other, for military troops and law enforcement officials who place themselves in harm's way to protect our way of life, and for "symbols and customs serving as tangible images" of freedom; and it encourages the Legion's promotion for "a united nation and a united American people."
In his remarks to the NEC, Americanism Commission Chairman Richard Anderson said the resolution "calls for unity and respect. Unity and respect of this nation ... unity and respect of what she stands for ... and unity and respect for each other as Americans. It cannot be disputed that we are a nation of diverse people having diverse perspectives, but I am confident that coming together, as Legionnaires and especially as proud Americans alike, that a 100 percent Americanism will persevere."
The resolution comes on the heels of a statement released a few weeks ago by American Legion National Commander Denise H. Rohan, who sent her condolences to the victims and their families affected by the mass shooting in Las Vegas. During her opening remarks to the NEC, she made mention of a news headline from that horrific act. It was about U.S. Army soldier Matthew Cobos who risked his life by shielding a woman from the bullets that were fired at the concert crowd.
“Our military men and women protect, shield and comfort all of us every day. The best way for The American Legion to comfort, protect and support Matthew Cobos and his brothers and sisters in arms, is not just to advocate for our military, but to advocate for their families,” Rohan said. “We need to let them know that the American Legion Family is there for their family. Which is why my theme is Family First!"
Rohan said an example of her Family First! initiative has been witnessed during the past few months with the Legion’s relief efforts for victims of hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
Since Harvey and Irma struck, nearly $65,500 in American Legion National Emergency Fund (NEF) grants have been given to 128 Legion Family members. These grants have covered the cost of shelter, food, clothing and other immediate needs while the families have been displaced from their homes due to the devastation caused by the hurricanes.
“We, The American Legion, help people that most likely would not have been helped otherwise,” Texas NECman Butch Sparks said to Legion leadership. “When you see a 4-year-old kid with no shoes, and you are able to give him what he needs (thanks to relief donations that poured in from departments nationwide), it makes you feel very honored to be a member of The American Legion.
“On behalf of the thousands and thousands of people that you helped by sending supplies and (monetary donations) after Hurricane Harvey, thank you for what you do to make sure that the American Legion Family comes first.”
NECmen and other Legion leadership showed their support for the Legion’s disaster relief efforts by presenting checks to Rohan for NEF that totaled more than $17,000.
In between natural disasters and attacks such as the one in Las Vegas, Rohan reminded Legion leadership that blood donations must continue. In 2016, from the 8,800 Consolidated Post Reports received, it was noted that Legionnaires donated more than 78,000 pints of blood. With the Legion’s holiday donor blood drive starting Nov. 22, Rohan stressed that “it’s the blood that’s on the shelves when events such as the one in Las Vegas occur that save the lives now and in the future.”
In closing, Rohan reflected back on the heroism of Cobos and The American Legion’s need to not only advocate for America’s military men and women, but for their families as well. “Because in reality, it is the American Legion Family that takes care of our nation’s families,” she said. Rohan asked Legion leadership to join her in helping take care of families nationwide by inviting their community to the dinner table on Nov. 11.
Rohan is calling on Legion posts, units and squadrons to serve up a bigger-than-ever Family First Veterans Day Dinner. Legion Family can invite National Guard and reserve troops, active-duty military personnel who might be far from home, Boy Scouts, VA staff, Legion youth program participants and alumni, civic organizations, educators and others. Materials have been created to help Legion family members plan and promote their Family First! Veterans Day Dinner. Download the materials here.
“We can’t support our communities if people don’t know we exist. Let your community know that we are also America’s family,” Rohan said. “We also can’t grow our membership if people do not know who we are and what we do. Because even though we have taken off our uniforms, we do continue to serve.”