By: C. Pat Smith, Department Adjutant
We recently traveled to Pueblo to meet with the President of Colorado State University at Pueblo. Our mission was to educate her about the American Legion and about our Boys State program, which is held annually at their university. Our real mission was to ask for some financial considerations from the university to reduce the overall cost of Boys State. To do so we needed to educate her and the staff about who we are, as an organization. She admitted right up front that she knew nothing about The American Legion. Our Boys State Director, Tom Bock, proceeded with a slide show presentation that gave her the history of the organization from day one. Tom’s emphasis was on our commitment to education of our youth, particularly through the Boys State program. She asked many excellent questions. She took our requests under advisement but we accomplished one mission of educating another American about the value of The American Legion.
A short time later I was walking through the hall and was stopped by a gentleman. His question of me was “what do you do here at the university?” My response was that I was a guest and was here on American Legion business. He said, “I’ve heard of The American Legion, what do you do?” Another opportunity to educate presented itself. My first question to him was he a veteran. The answer was yes, a career veteran, 1951 to 1975. Guess what, with those dates he is eligible for membership. We proceeded to have a nice discussion about the Legion.
The purpose of telling these two stories is that to sell the organization you must know something about it. There are several ways to educate yourself, if you are so inclined. One excellent way is to attend your post meetings every month. You will meet other veterans who have some experience and knowledge they will share with you. District conventions are another great way, as is the annual department convention held in June of each year. Our national organization just announced that the American Legion Extension Institute is now available on line. This is a four volume course of instruction covering the history of the organization from the founding to the current day objectives. It is a 90 minute course in one sitting with a test at the end. You will a receive certificate of completion online and you can tell everyone you completed the course. This is an outstanding way to learn of our history, our value system and our commitment to veterans.
Learning about the American Legion is an evolution process. Isn’t everything in life? The more you know the more you will appreciate the tremendous contributions we make to our veteran community, their families and to our local communities. We can all take pride of ownership in our American Legion membership card. No matter where we come from in life from a professional point of view, we are all veterans and no one can take that away from us. Show your pride every day, get involved in The American Legion and get educated about The American Legion. You won’t be disappointed.