Husband and wife share vision in top Arkansas Legion Family leadership roles

Husband and wife share vision in top Arkansas Legion Family leadership roles

Serving as the top leaders of two of the arms of the American Legion Family at the same time wasn’t necessarily the goal of Arkansas husband and wife Antoine “Tony” Gordon and Pearl Gordon. But when the pair realized it was possible, and with the support of the department’s Legion Family members, they made it happen.

The Gordons were elected 2024-2025 American Legion Department of Arkansas commander and Auxiliary department president recently during the department’s convention. The pair, who will celebrate their 39th wedding anniversary in July, are just the third husband and wife to serve in the two positions at the same time in the department’s history.

A few years ago, the pair didn’t think much about attempting to run for their respective positions at the same time. Tony said Pearl had moved up through the Auxiliary quicker than he through the Legion, but at one point they both served in leadership positions of one of the department’s divisions at the same time.

“At that point a couple of years ago, we started looking at the possibility of serving as department commander and department president together,” said Tony.

“Along the way, several people asked, ‘When are you going to run for president?’” Pearl added. “Tony and I talked about it a couple of years ago, because on the Legion side several people were asking him the same question. So, we decided we would do it this year, together.”

Gordon graduated from high school in 1984 and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force under the Delayed Enlistment Program, serving from 1985 to 2007. He’s served in multiple leadership positions at Michael Vann Johnson Jr. Post 74 in North Little Rock, as has Pearl at Auxiliary Unit 74.

Pearl said one of her goals this year is to improve communication within the department’s Legion and Auxiliary. “We feel like together we can combine our Legion Family to solidify that bond much better with the Auxiliary and the Legion. Bring back that camaraderie,” she said. “That’s one of the things that we considered. We have a lot of the same leadership ideas. And as we’ve worked through our careers, we’ve always come home and discussed things, ways to improve things.

“So, I think with this, we just looked at how could our leadership experience make a difference in the Legion Family and just kind of went with that.”

Tony has similar plans. “Our goal together is to fortify our Legion Family through training, empowerment, accountability and mentorship,” he said. “To help grow the Legion as whole, not only at the state level … but on the national level as well. We want to see this translate throughout the nation that our American Legion Family can work together to promote the programs, services and advocacy efforts for The American Legion.”

Tony’s focus as department commander is “Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation, and Children & Youth programs. Of course we want to incorporate all of the pillars, but those two are the ones I want to focus on because I’m a service officer by trade.”

Pearl wants to ensure that military families receive the support they need and plans to reach out to family support staff at Little Rock Air Force Base to find out their needs.

“Mine is kind of two-fold, because I want to look at what we can do through National Security for our military … and also for the veteran population,” she said. “I am in contact with the director of the VA here in Little Rock so that we can see how we can best help the VA there.”

But whatever their missions this year, Tony and Pearl plan on carrying them out together.

“We love spending time together. This is just an extension of our relationship,” Tony said. “It makes it much easier and much more productive that we can do this together, and it won’t take away time from us spending quality time together.”