By: Pat Smith, Department Adjutant
The month of May is an important month for The American Legion. For it is in this month that our district conventions take place. Why is that important? Well, because the delegates to the district conventions will review and vote on resolutions that can change the policies of the organization.
For 93 years convention delegates have been debating resolutions submitted to them from the mind of an individual Legionnaire. Or perhaps the idea came from a committee appointed by the commander. In either case that idea then takes the form of a resolution, which is then submitted to a post membership meeting. When approved by the post membership the resolution then travels to the district convention for debate there. If the resolution passes at the district it will then go to the department convention for further debate. If successful at department it then travels to the national convention for a final decision.
Resolutions cannot only change the internal policies of the organization, but they can change the world. That may sound like a bold statement, but it actually happened that way. In 1945 an individual Legionnaire, a WWI veteran and past national commander, Harry Comerly, wrote the language that became the GI Bill. He wrote the language in a resolution format and submitted it to The American Legion national convention for action. The convention delegates passed it unanimously. This was a radical idea. It has been called the greatest single piece of legislation in the 20th century. It did change the world. WWII vets came back and utilized the education benefits it offered. They bought homes under the bill. It changed the landscape of America. It made America the most educated country in the world at the time. It boosted the economy and provided prosperity for all Americans. And, just think, all of this from the mind of a single Legionnaire.
Legion history is filled with many resolutions that became the law of the land for veterans and their families. The American Legion has a full time staff that does nothing but lobby Congress for the passage of laws that emanated from resolutions. But resolutions can also change the internal workings of the organization. The POW/MIA empty chair ceremony came from a resolution submitted by someone in the organization. Constitution and Bylaws of the organization can be changed by an approved resolution. Changes in membership dues at all levels will be debated from a resolution. Our ceremonial manual can be changed by a resolution.
So it is decision time. What is in your mind? What changes and/or improvements do you see for the organization? Do you have that next great idea? Will you write the next GI Bill that will change the world? Are you dissatisfied with the way Congress treats veterans? If so there is a resolution in your future.
Writing a resolution is a two part process. First, you must have the idea. Put it in writing. The “Resolved” clause is the action you expect from the resolution. You always write the resolved clause first. When you are happy with the language and you are sure it conveys your idea in a clear and concise manner you then write the “Whereas” clauses. These clauses will lay out the reasons you believe your resolution should be adopted by the American Legion. The whereas clauses, should contain references to any material that will support your resolved clause. You can attach the reference material to the resolution when you submit it for consideration.
That’s all there is to it! Write your resolution and ask your post membership to approve it. When adopted at the post be sure your post adjutant submits it to the district for consideration. When adopted there the district adjutant will send it to the department. If adopted there the department adjutant will send it to the national organization. If adopted there, congratulations. You made an impact.
The district convention schedule is published elsewhere in this publication. Check the dates and be sure to attend. Even if you don’t write a resolution you will have the opportunity to debates resolutions someone else wrote. Your vote will count. The next great idea may be at that convention and you will be a part of history.
It is decision time.