Patricia Harris has been a part of the American Legion Family since childhood. The daughter of a World War II veteran, she joined Unit 157’s Junior Auxiliary in Raleigh, N.C., as a girl and grew up in and around the post. Even then, her father’s Legion cap made an impression on her.
“When I put his cap on, my dad told me, ‘You only have two minutes to put that cap on, and then you have to take it off,’” Harris recalls. “I did ask him later, ‘Why did you only give me two minutes?’ He said, ‘If you want to be a Legionnaire, you’re going to have to do what we did to earn the right to do that.’”
Harris took that challenge, serving 22 years in the Army and Army Reserve. She’s also blazed trails in North Carolina, serving as the first female commander in Post 157’s 83-year history and later as the first female department commander.
Harris now belongs to Post 124 in Apex, which she helped revitalize while serving as district commander in 2007 and 2008. After deploying to the Persian Gulf with her husband, leaving behind two small children, Harris gained a greater appreciation of the need for support for military families.
“The experience we went through ... that’s why I think it’s of the utmost importance that we do that,” she says. “(The American Legion) is a family. It was one to me, and it has helped my family. (As Legionnaires), we’ve been there, we know what it’s like, and we know what we need to do to help.”
Branch of service Army Reserve (1979-1980 and 1994-2001), Army (1980-1994)
Military jobs Communications specialist/unit dispatcher
American Legion post Post 157, Raleigh, N.C. (1998-2009), Post 124, Cary, N.C. (2009-present)
Years in The Legion 19
- Alternate National Executive Committeeman (2016-present)
- National Internal Affairs Commission member (2013-present)
- Department commander (2013-2014)
- National Legion College facilitator (2009,
- 2010 and 2013)
- National Children & Youth Commission consultant (2007-2013)
- District commander (2007-2008)
- Post commander (2005-2007)