Thursday, April 14, 2016
‘You Stand Up to Do the Right Thing,’ National Commander Tells NY
“You stand up to do the right thing” and “make a difference” in people’s lives.
That’s why American Legion National Commander Dale Barnett said he is excited about what the Legion does for community and nation.
Barnett spoke to members of the Legion, Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion (SAL) who packed banquet halls in his four-day swing through the eastern half of New York State. He began his visit in the Herkimer County City of Little Falls April 13, then headed to the Capital Region April 14, and finally downstate to Queens April 15.
Look at the Legion in Selma, Alabama, for an example of standing up for what is right, Barnett said in recounting a recent visit there. Decades before Selma became the heart of a civil rights showdown, the American Legion sued the Ku Klux Klan over a World War I monument that neglected to include the names of veterans of color. A veteran is a veteran, they argued. The Legion won and the names were added.
“We need to stand up for our military, we need stand up for our veterans.”
The national commander said he likes to walk with the American Legion Family – to hear stories about how the Legion changed their lives. In his estimation, the Legion Family is not just members of the Legion, Auxiliary and SAL, but everyone the Legion touches through its programs – such as young Legion ball players, and Boy and Girl Staters.
He has fond memories of attending Boys State himself. “I learned I could make a difference.”
His motto, he said, consists of three simple, yet powerful words – “duty, honor and country.”
“You have a duty to your community, you have a duty to yourself to make this country better.”
Honor comes from “wearing the uniform” and from “wearing the Legion cap.” In other words, “it’s an honor to serve.”
He added: “There is no greater country in the world than the United States of America. Freedom is not free. Our country needs us right now.”
The April 13th banquet was at the Little Falls Travelodge, followed April 14 by a tour of the Watervliet Arsenal in Watervliet and a banquet at the Holiday Inn in Saratoga Springs. On April 15 Commander Barnett heads downstate for lunch with local Legion Family members at Crabtree’s in Floral Park. In the evening he speaks at a dinner in his honor at Antun’s in Queens Village.
He wraps up his New York tour Saturday morning, April 16, with a visit to his alma mater — the Military Academy at West Point. Barnett was an army infantry officer from 1974 to 1996 and served in both Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.