Dominic D. DiFrancesco has spent more than one lifetime connected to The American Legion. He’s now working on his fourth generation. His father, Anthony, was an Italian-born World War I veteran, Legionnaire and shoemaker in Steelton, Pa., who kept only one magazine in his shop, The American Legion Magazine. “I loved the jokes page when I was a kid,” DiFrancesco said in a June 18, 2020, PNC Perspectives interview from his home in Middletown, Pa.
Immediately after DiFrancesco was discharged from the U.S. Navy in 1954, his father welcomed him home with his first American Legion membership card. His dues for that year, his father said, were covered. Future dues were his responsibility.
Nearly 70 years later – and a resume brimming with American Legion leadership positions and accomplishments that spans from Post 594 in Middletown, Pa., to the highest office of the nation’s largest veterans service organization in 1991-92 – DiFrancesco has raised his children in the American Legion Family, and his grandchildren are following suit.
In his PNC Perspectives video, DiFrancesco describes what The American Legion has meant to him and his family; the trip he made to New Guinea to memorialize a childhood idol who died a U.S. Marine in World War II; the battle to ensure that Gulf War veterans received fair benefits and care; and the effort he and The American Legion made to help fund the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Of all the topics related to his year as national commander and career of service – from the infancy of the Family Support Network to fierce battles to protect VA health care – DiFrancesco talks most passionately about the camaraderie he has enjoyed throughout his American Legion life.
“The greatest thing about it is the friendships, the people you get to know throughout the country,” he says. “No matter where you go, no matter what you do, if you’re in trouble or need a favor, you pick up the phone … and you’ve got a buddy, buddy. It’s a fraternity like no one could ever imagine … It’s been my life.”
To view the PNC Perspectives video conversation with DiFrancesco and other past national commanders of The American Legion, click here.