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An Unusual Time, But Legionnaires Still Remember
Message from Commander Micheal McDermott
Department of New York
We are in an unusual time this Memorial Day as we remember our fallen service men and women.
Most of our parades and outdoor activities have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, some of us are visiting graves in person while other participate virtually.
We also honor those who succumbed to COVID-19 – especially older veterans who survived the battlefield only to be waylaid by a virus.
For example: Because of the efforts of Department of New York legionnaires, those veterans who died at New York City’s Javits New York Medical Station received a U.S. flag for their casket, to go along with proper military honors performed by the National Guard during the transfer of remains.
When a veteran passed away on April 19, Army National Guard Sgt. Major Bob Jenks –a combat veteran and a member of American Legion Post 178 in Millerton, NY – prepared for the fact there would be a need to provide proper military honors.
An honor guard was arranged for the transfer, but a casket flag was needed. Bob reached out to former Post 178 and Duchess County Commander Al Andrews. Within 12 hours, 15 5’x8’ U.S. flags were delivered to Javits for the initial transfer of remains and any to happen going forward.
Al said assisting with the flag request was an easy decision. “If it’s for the veterans, we’re pretty much doing whatever we can to help meet a need. The support, although unique in this pandemic response, is exactly what The American Legion is intended for.”
Well said, Al !
That’s a perfect example of how the Legionnaires go out of their way to remember and honor those who have gone before us – even in a pandemic.
One final thought. I like our national commander’s suggestion to light red, white and blue candles at dusk on Memorial Day. Here’s how Commander Bill Oxford explains it:
I’m calling on the American Legion Family to encourage communities far and wide to pay tribute to our nation’s fallen heroes at dusk May 25, Memorial Day, by lighting candles of honor and placing them on front porches. Such a display will remind everyone that our resolve to honor those who served before us will continue even as social-distancing measures limit our ability to perform traditional Memorial Day remembrances… Color options for consideration could include:
— A red candle to remember the blood shed in battle for the protection of our freedoms.
— A white candle to keep our POWs/MIAs ever in our thoughts and prayers as we await their return home
— A blue candle to salute the memories of those who made it home but are no longer with us.
God bless you all for what you do for veterans.
— Commander Michael McDermott
Department of New York
Message from the Commander UK Post 1 London:
As Commander of UK Post 1 London UK I want to urge all of our members to follow the instructions concerning Covid-19 (Corona) virus to the fullest, it is in our best interest and only chance to beat this virus. Due to the fact that we are located all over the UK and even Belgium it is easy to feel that we are on our own or even forgotten by our comrades. This is not true and I want to urge every member to remember that they should not hesitate to reach out for help in these difficult times. If I or one of our other Officers do not have the answer to help you find the assistance needed I am sure that one of our Comrades does. Together we are strong and if we all can contribute to helping a fellow veteran with words of comfort, concrete advise where the required assistance can be found, or just performing Buddy Checks to find if out he or she is OK then we can say that we are meeting our moral obligation to each other. Remember “No Man Left Behind” and how important that is in these difficult times.
I and my Wife Anne wish you and yours all the best. Be safe, STAY HOME, and stay healthy.
James FitzGerald, Commander American Legion UK Post 1 London England, Department of New York
The American Legion was chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization devoted to mutual helpfulness. It is the nation’s largest veterans service organization, committed to mentoring and sponsorship of youth programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting a strong national security, and continued devotion to our fellow service members and veterans about The American Legion.
In contrast to other veterans organizations, the Legion offers a number of local programs and activities to strengthen its commitment to our nation’s grass roots and the people we serve. American Legion Baseball is one of the nation’s most successful amateur athletic programs; it continues to educate youths on the importance of sportsmanship and develops the quality of our country’s citizenship. The Heroes to Hometowns program is the only nationwide reintegration assistance service for wounded veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. Additionally, millions of dollars in donations have been given to fellow veterans and their families in times of grief, and various scholarship opportunities ensure the future success of our youth.
The American Legion is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization with great political influence perpetuated by its grass-roots involvements in the legislation process. Legionnaires’ sense of obligation to their community, state and nation drives an honest advocacy for veterans in Washington. The Legion stands not behind politics, but the issues and people that institute progress by focusing on veterans rights and quality of life.
The American Legion’s success depends entirely on active membership, participation and volunteerism. The organization belongs to the people it serves and the communities in which it thrives.