When Department of Wisconsin 10th District Commander Paul Beseler looked at this year’s Legacy Run and didn’t see it making anything but a gas stop in his area, he wanted to know why.
So he reached out to the man with the answers: Legacy Run Chief Road Captain Bob Sussan, a Department of Virginia Legionnaire and chairman of the National Legion Riders Advisory Committee.
What started out as an email conversation turned into Sussan tinkering with the route so that a longer stop will now take place in Galesville, the home of Rowles-McBride Post 103. And although Post 103 doesn’t have a physical home, the post and its town are planning on rolling out the welcome mats for the Legion Riders on the ride – and American Legion National Commander Denise Rohan, a Wisconsin Legionnaire.
Beseler said he reached out to Sussan to get “an answer I could give the Legion Family in the 10th District. I am very proud of my district and my entire Legion Family. I was disappointed they would lose out on the opportunity of having a premier program of the Legion pass through with no recognition (for the district’s Legion Family members).
"(It’s) a chance to see firsthand the efforts of The American Legion and Riders at a national level. We are so much more than funerals and parades; we are family that comes together for the good of veterans, their families, community, state and nation. I want my Legion Family to see what they do.”
Beseler also stressed that many of the Legion Family members in the 10th District won’t ever get a chance to meet a national commander, and that this was their opportunity to do so. Beseler shared with Sussan some of the highlights of the area.
“Mr. Sussan not only listened, but he heard me,” Beseler said.
Sussan, who has served as the Legacy Run’s chief road captain since 2014, said that when he first saw Beseler’s email he realized “the guy has a point. We talked about it. And the deviation from my other route was trivial. And it made so much sense.
“Now the town is coming out. The Chamber (of Commerce) is making a donation. They’re giving a proclamation. There’s a lot of community coming out.”
The stop in Galesville will include a short ceremony on the square in the historic downtown, with neighboring Legion posts and community members lining the streets to welcome the Riders to town. Rohan will lay a wreath at the grave of Cpl. William Roland McBride, one of the post’s namesakes, who was killed in action while evacuating wounded personnel during World War II.
And Beseler is also hoping that local residents and businesses will donate to the Legacy Fund during the stop.
Beseler said the changing of the route “was not so much accommodating us. Rather, it is allowing our Legion Family and our communities to be part of helping thank these families of the fallen in some small way, showing our communities what we do and why we do it beyond our communities. The American Legion and our programs and what we do at any level should not be a secret. I applaud Mr. Sussan for his open-mindedness and allowing us a chance to help.”
Being able to make adjustments is part of planning the Legacy Run. “I love hearing from folks about possible stops on the ride,” Sussan said. “Is it more work? Yes. But in this case it was worth it and the right thing to do.”
Online registration for the 2018 American Legion Legacy Ride is available now through Aug. 11. All riders and passengers who register online before Aug. 1 will be mailed the registration packet with patches and map book materials before national staff departs. Those who register on or after Aug. 1 will be mailed their registration packets on or after Sept. 1 (while supplies last) as staff returns from convention duties.