I would like to introduce you to the American Legion Post 3.
I became involved with Post 3 in 1993 when they hired the accountant I worked for. They were assigned to me and after all these years they are still a huge part of my life. When I left that job, they left with me. They have stuck with me through a few jobs, a lot of heartaches and the death of my dad.
Most people think of them as a group of old men who sit around the bar drinking all day. That could not be further from the truth.
The members served the United States honorably, all over the world. There are very few left from WWII and the younger veterans don’t show much interest in joining a Veteran’s group so the members are mostly men who fought in Korea and Vietnam. They served their country as young men and they are now serving their community as seniors.
From their Mission Statement: It is the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization, committed to mentoring youth and sponsorship of wholesome programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security, and continued devotion to our fellow service members and veterans.
I know you have heard of a program called Boys State and may be aware that the Legion sponsors boys who want to participate. Did you know that the American Legion is Boys State? It was founded by two Illinois Legionnaires, Hayes Kennedy and Harold Card. At Boys State, participants learn the rights, privileges and responsibilities of citizens. They participate in legislative sessions, court proceedings, law-enforcement presentations, assemblies, bands, choruses and recreational programs. American Legion Auxiliary sponsors a separate but similar program for young women called Girls State.
American Legion Baseball is a national institution. It was founded in 1925 and has taught hundreds of thousands of young Americans the importance of sportsmanship, good health and active citizenship. The program is also a promoter of equality, making teammates out of young athletes regardless of their income levels or social standings. Major League Baseball has sponsored the program since the beginning. Our own Post 3 sponsors teams right here in Rapides Parish.
Another misconception about The Legion is bingo. The members of Post 3 do not meet each week to play bingo. The give up two days each week to work at their own bingo hall where people from the community play. The money they raise is put back into the community. It is used for flag and patriotism education, get out the vote campaigns, and other patriot programs. They support such organizations as The Food Bank, The Senior Citizens Center, CASA, The Shepherd Center, Doll and Toy Fund, Special Olympics, Senior Olympics, Barks, St. Mary’s, Friendship House, Bikers Against Child Abuse, Ronald McDonald House, The Boy Scouts, The Girl Scouts, St. Judes, Volunteer Services at the VA Medical Center, and VA Medical Center Bingo. They sponsor local and national oratorical contests and give scholarships in many fields. They sponsor the Junior ROTC and gun safety programs. They help the homeless, families who can’t afford a funeral for a loved one and veterans who are in need.
They are people who have spent their entire lives giving their time, their money and a large piece of themselves to their country and their community with little or no recognition. They don’t ask for praise or a pat on the back. They simply want others to know what The American Legion is about so that the younger generation of veterans may be inspired to join and carry on the mission.