Friday, January 21, 2022
Commander LaMarsh Shares His Mid-Winter Message
My Fellow Legionnaires and Members of the American Legion Family,
During the weeks leading up to the decision to cancel the Mid-Winter conference, Adjutant Casey and I spent a considerable amount of time and effort weighing all the options, scenarios, and possibilities associated with moving forward with the Conference or canceling it. One of the most important factors was, and will always be, the welfare and safety of our membership. At the end of the day, we believed that some of the activities, like the cocktail reception, dinner, social gatherings, meetings and taking into consideration our recent experiences bringing several hundred Legionnaires together, posed a threat that we were not willing to take. Along those lines, we felt the prudent thing to do was to postpone my visitations. I hope many, if not all of them, can be rescheduled because I look forward to seeing you and getting my message out.
It appears that the latest strain of the COVID-19 virus, at least in many parts of New York, is in the decline. Hopefully, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and Hill Day and our springtime activities can and will go on.
Although we are not meeting face to face as an organization, we still have much to do. Our membership team has been working extremely hard to get our numbers where they need to be, but there is only so much they can do. Much to my dismay, we have failed to reach even a single target date and we are next to last in the Northeast. It is on each of us to work together to reach our goals. Although many of our posts are closed or restricted, there are many things we can do to attract new members and retain / re-sign the ones whose membership has lapsed.
One of the easiest and most beneficial is the “Buddy Check.” A simple phone call asking, how are you doing, and can we be of assistance, goes a long way.
Get out into the community and help; run a food drive or if possible, look into allowing a portion of the post to be used for COVID-19 shots or boosters. We need to let our communities know our organization is alive and well and here to help.
Let the veterans in your area know that without the strong voice of the American Legion, the benefits we receive now, or they will need in the future, are heading for extinction.
As I’ve said in my message during the few visitations we’ve had, National Commander Dillard responded to a piece in the Wall Street Journal that “Old Veterans Organizations are fading away” and referenced another article that states, “American Legion, Once a Civic and Social Power is Slowly Fading Away.” “The old members are dying off and the young ones aren’t interested.” One entry in the article states that “Younger veterans simply don’t join clubs the way older generations did.” “Partly this reflects a general decline in community organizations.”
We have a clear choice. We can sit idly by and watch this incredible organization fade away or we can prove the Wall Street Journal wrong by each of us making a commitment to make our voices heard, attract new younger members, and build on the legacy started in 1919.
In closing we may have to change the way we do business. Just remember who we are, what we do and who we do it for. Let us not throw our hands in the air and say we cannot beat this virus. America’s military has never given up and neither should we. I’m looking forward to seeing many of you at Hill Day and just having the chance to hear what you have to say.
Honoring Our Heroes Through Service
Francis A. (Frank) LaMarsh