Department of Iowa,
Thank you for electing me your Department Commander.
I want to begin by giving a shout out to Ed Rohner. Contested elections are tough. The whole process can get out of hand very quickly and divide our legionnaires more than they already are simply because it’s contested to begin with. Ed and I knew that very early on and we committed to not allow that to happen. We had private conversations we never shared with anybody else. We both ran our campaigns with respect for the other and shook hands every time we met. You saw the handshake and hug on the convention floor after the election results were announced. That was genuine. We knew that’s what our Legion Family expected of us. Thank you Ed.
Congratulations Department President Jayne, Detachment Commander Jim, and Department ALR Chairman Cliff. Let’s keep our momentum going.
In order to succeed, we must believe we can. The team we’ve put together believes we have the right team at the right time and we’re ready to advance to the sound of the gun and we’re geared up for the fight.
Deciding whether or not to run for Department Commander wasn’t easy. I had many discussions over the past 3 years with fellow legionnaires, friends and family. Those discussions helped me realize exactly what it was going to take to fill the shoes of the relatively few that’s gone before me.
With that said…….. A humble person might question their worthiness to hold the high office of The American Legion, Department of Iowa Commander. We might question whether or not we can live up to the expectations of our Legion Family. And we might privately question whether or not we’re making this monumental leap for all the right reasons. Perhaps those reasons were the answers to my questions. Our American Legion does great things. Every one of my friends that knows what the Legion does understands it’s important work. And my immediate family knows firsthand it takes a special passion to commit to such an undertaking – because once committed, you’re in it. That passion and commitment will follow you to your grave. A picture will hang on a wall at headquarters to remind future legionnaires who we were, but it’s our past actions that will determine what thoughts run through minds when that picture is viewed.
We’ve spent time getting to know our Legion Family and their needs. We’ve traveled from Onawa to Radcliffe – from Dyersville to Keokuk. We’ve traveled from Albia to Olwein and Waverly and many points in between. We’ve spent time in the morning to meet with a Post Commander over coffee and driven 31/2 hrs across District lines to make a post meeting that same evening. I’ve seen our SAL raise money for the Veterans Home and Posts, Units, Squadrons and Chapters donating money, needed items and volunteering their time to take care of our hero’s.
I’ve seen seemingly endless hours spent in 95 degree heat at Boys and Girls State. I’ve seen 100’s of care packages go out to our active duty. And I’ve seen thank you letters from those same troops in return. I’ve seen our Legion Riders ride through all kinds of weather and traffic to honor a fallen comrade, pay a final tribute and make sure a fellow veteran is honorably and safely delivered to their final resting place. I’ve seen that same group already making plans on how they’re going to raise the next dollar to help some kid in need. I’ve watched as they plan the next legacy run to add to the more than $15 million already raised for the Legacy Scholarship Fund.
I saw a 95 yr old WWII veteran in a wheelchair cry as he saluted the flag at a Memorial Day ceremony. And I saw a Vietnam Veteran in a firing squad cry as that same WWII Veteran was laid to rest just months later. I saw flags folded and presented with dignity to a mother, wife, daughter or son – knowing full well that flag may never be unfolded again.
Legion Family, that’s what it’s all about. Together, let’s make this year the best ever.
For God and Country,
Together Everybody Achieves More “TEAM”
If Our Veterans Are Taken Care Of, So Are Their Families And Our Communities Reap The Benefits.