By: Pat Smith Department Adjutant – As Published in the August 2015 Internet Observer
In a few short years this organization will celebrate its 100 anniversary. Reaching 100 is a milestone in any one’s life. But for an organization to reach that point is close to being historic. A number of businesses have reached that point, notably Westinghouse, Ford, The Coca-Cola Company, International Business Machines (IBM), Union Pacific Railroad Corporation to name a few. Quick Internet research shows that about 540 American Companies have reached that mark out of about 6 million that have existed at one time or other.
How many non-profit organizations have attained that milestone? Don’t know that answer and not enough time to do extensive research. But I do know that in the veteran’s arena both The American Legion and the VFW are in that company.
What does it take to get to that point? I believe that the founders of those old companies started out with an idea. They had a vision for a product, design or service. It took commitment to fulfil that vision. It is said that Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times before he found the right combination of elements that produced the light bulb. Success does not happen without commitment. Then there is legacy. Thomas Edison left a lasting legacy for mankind.
Vision, Commitment, Legacy!
The American Legion has learned the secret of longevity. Our WWI founders knew they had to band together when the war was over. Their vision was to take care of their buddies, their families, our nation and our communities. Their vision produced what we call today the four “Four Pillars’. The organization grew to 800,000 members in just a short 18 months with that vision. Those members became committed to that vision. They formed local posts in their communities. They became involved in all aspects of society. They made a difference in the lives of their fellow human beings. They began the journey to legacy.
Today, the vision has not changed. What has changed is the world we live in. Communication today is lightning fast. We have so many ways to reach out to our fellow veterans. Social media is the way to bring new members into our organization. Once they get here we need to use all methods to get them to make that commitment to the vision. But before commitment is belief. Again social media is the way to articulate our belief system to the world. Our preamble says it best; “For God and Country we associate ourselves together…” Our young veterans must know that if they want to preserve the freedoms they fought for they must be committed to a strong belief system. The American Legion has that belief system. We believe in patriotism, we believe in our children and families, we believe in a strong national defense, we believe in helping our fellow veterans. If you believe, join us.
Vision, Commitment, Legacy, without it we fail!