Kevin Harrington, a 40-year member of Sons of The American Legion Squadron 1231 in Rensselaer, N.Y, currently serves as NALPA’s Area 1 vice president. He has held a leadership position every year in his squadron, including commander, and he started Squadron 1231’s website 16 years ago. Harrington now manages a combined website for the post, squadron, Auxiliary and Legion Riders.
He is eligible for SAL membership through his father, a World War II veteran.
David Wallace: Can you share the history behind Post 1231’s namesake, Melvin Roads?
Kevin Harrington: The post is named after a native son of the town – Melvin Roads. He was the son of Orange and Jessie Roads and graduated from Rensselaer High School. (During World War I) he tried to enlist in the Army but was turned down several times due to a defect in the sight of one eye. Finally, he reached his goal of military service by being drafted. It was in his role of driving a motorcycle/side car that he met his untimely death. Private Roads, along with Major Alfred K. King (who occupied the side car), were killed near La Neuville, France, on November 10, 1918, only a few hours before the armistice was signed.
Wallace: How long have you been a member of NALPA?
Harrington: About 10 years thanks to Mike Duggan, NALPA’s past president.
Wallace: How does the Department of New York promote its press association?
Harrington: We have an annual awards contest, and we staff a press association table at our Mid-Winter Conference as well as at our department convention. We publish quarterly newsletters, have an association website, and we just started a Facebook page.
Something unique about the New York American Legion Press Association (NYALPA) is that it offers two annual scholarships in memory of Albert M. Becker, past NYALPA president (1984-85) and past department commander (1988-89). One is a youth scholarship and the other is a military scholarship for $1,000 each.
Wallace: What has been your favorite activity that you or your squadron has been a part of?
Harrington: My wife and I camp and we have presented a Memorial Day service for about the last 10 years at the campground. We, along with our friends, read various patriotic and historical items. And our friends children, and other friends who play an instrument, play music. Veterans at the campground are introduced and given a U.S. flag.
We also recognized the 15-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks by conducting a memorial with our fire department on September 11, 2016.
Wallace: Where do you see NALPA focusing its attention over the next three years?
Harrington: We need to continue to improve and expand communication methods through NALPA’s website and by email and written text. Also by using social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook. This provides a balance for our members of all ages and offers support for local efforts on the same areas via written and video presentations.