Carrying the Legacy Forward

Woods-Smith Post 9 to celebrate American Legion’s 99th birthday

Special to the Eagle
Posted 3/4/18

JASPER - On Thursday, March 8, beginning at 6 p.m. in the Bevill State Community College-Jasper Campus Cafeteria located in the Wade Math and Science building, the Woods-Smith Post 9 of The American Legion Department of Alabama will celebrate the American Legion’s 99th anniversary, which will occur March 15, 2018.

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Carrying the Legacy Forward

Woods-Smith Post 9 to celebrate American Legion’s 99th birthday

Posted

JASPER - On Thursday, March 8, beginning at 6 p.m. in the Bevill State Community College-Jasper Campus Cafeteria located in the Wade Math and Science building, the Woods-Smith Post 9 of The American Legion Department of Alabama will celebrate the American Legion’s 99th anniversary, which will occur March 15, 2018. Carrying the Legacy Forward is the theme for the nation’s largest and most influential veterans service organization with a membership of 2.4 million men and women.

The American Legion was born in Paris, France, in March 1919, after which a caucus in St. Louis was held. The organization was chartered in September and held its first convention in Minneapolis in November 1919

Virtually unknown due to its infancy, The American Legion had more than 843,000 dues­ paying members by the end of its first year. This was an especially remarkable feat in a world without the internet, televisions, cellphones and other media that we take for granted today There was no interstate highway system and car ownership was still not widespread.

Yet, people went through great lengths to become part of this special organization. And while the language of the time certainly reflected a male-dominated culture, The American Legion was open to all eligible wartime veterans; regardless of gender, race or religion. Women veterans could vote for the National Commander of The American Legion before they could legally vote for the President of the United States.

Nearly a century later, Denise H. Rohan would become the first female national commander. Through her Family First agenda, Commander Rohan reminds us to serve relatives of veterans, who also have unique needs that were caused by military service.

Service is nothing new to The American Legion.

The American Legion’s founders served in World War I and they were “still serving” when their successors fought in the second world war - just as every generation of Legionnaires has served its comrades from all wars since.

But, serving fellow veterans is just one of the many ways that The American Legion assists in communities throughout the land.

The American Legion serves the youth of America with outstanding programs such as American Legion Baseball, Junior Shooting Sports, Boys State and Boys Nation. The American Legion has supported the Boy Scouts of America since 1919 and today charters 2,400 Scouting units comprising more than 61,000 young men and women.

The American Legion High School Oratorical Contest awards scholarships to young men and women who can most effectively communicate the ideals of the U.S. Constitution.

Moreover, the Legion feels a special obligation to the children of those who died or were severely disabled while on active-duty since 9/11 Military parents can take comfort in knowing that The American Legion’s Legacy Scholarship Fund will help pay their children’s college educations if tragedy should occur while they serve.

The American Legion does these things not because it can, but because it’s who we are.

The author of America’s greatest legislation, Past National Commander Harry Colmery, knew that it was right for America to remember returning war veterans by making it possible for them to obtain college educations and purchase homes.

While others scoffed that such a benefit would “break the treasury,” The American Legion held firm and ensured the passage of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, also known as the GI Bill of Rights.

As the years passed, the GI Bill diminished in value. Once again, The American Legion fought hard for a new GI Bill that would allow veterans of the post 9/11 generation to transfer their benefits to family members. The benefit increased even further when the new “Forever GI Bill” was passed and usage deadlines were eliminated. It was officially named the Harry W Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 20 17

The American Legion has wielded considerable influence in Washington since our founding, when there was not yet a Veterans Bureau, Veterans Administration and certainly not a Department of Veterans Affairs.

The American Legion believed from the beginning that veterans earned quality health care from a grateful nation. A nation that sends its military to war had a special obligation to make its heroes whole upon their return.

After decades of American Legion efforts, a cabinet-level position was created to serve those who served us - the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Today, The American Legion is the greatest supporter of the Department of Veterans Affairs. But when VA falls short, The American Legion is also its biggest critic.

Another founding pillar of The American Legion is Americanism. As the lead organization responsible for the U. S. Flag code, Legionnaires can often be found teaching flag etiquette in classrooms across the country Along with the proper folding and display of the flag, Legionnaires understand the importance of respecting Old Glory

Also, members of local American Legion posts provide volunteer funeral details to render military honors for veterans. Woods-Smith Post 9 in Jasper has a Volunteer Ceremonial (Honor/Color) Guard. Veterans honorably discharged and/or serving in the active/reserve, are eligible to participate in the Post 9 Ceremonial Guard. For more information, contact the Post’s Ceremonial Guard Commander, Dalton Banks, at 205-239-7718.

The Legion has been working to make sure that the flag of the United States is constitutionally protected from desecration. The greatest tragedy in flag desecration is the disrespect it symbolizes. This disrespect not only sends a harmful message to children, it is a slap to those who have sacrificed for the values that the flag represents. Disrespect is the genesis of hate.

Our organization stood boldly against hate in 1923 when delegates at our National Convention in San Francisco passed Resolution 407, which condemned groups that fostered religious, racial and class strife as “un-American” and “inconsistent with the ideals and purposes of The American Legion.”

Although, historians have questioned the true source of the classic quote, “American is great because America is good,” there is no doubt that America’s goodness is on display at nearly 13,000 American Legion posts throughout the world. It’s on display when a Legionnaire volunteers at the local VA hospital. It is on display when The American Legion feeds the homeless, provides an honor guard, conducts a blood drive or supports a job fair

The American Legion truly is a large organization of men and women who have stood to defend our nation in times of war and who continues to stand for a strong national defense in a changing world. These members steadfastly work to preserve the fabric of the United States of America.

For 99 years, the American Legion has been a force for good in America. With God’s grace, our best years are still ahead. God bless America and God bless the American Legion.

The Woods-Smith Post 9 meets the 2nd Thursday of each month on the Jasper campus of Bevill State Community College in the Wade Math and Science Building at 805 14th Street. Meetings are preceeded by a “Meet and Greet” at 5:30 p.m., with meeting beginning at 6:30 p.m.

For further information, contact The American Legion, Woods-Smith Post 9, P.O. Box 1204, Jasper, AL 35502, Attention: James W (Jay) Snow, Adjutant, 205-527-7090; legion. post9.ala@gmail.com.