'What is the American Legion and what does it do?'

| 15 May 2015 | 07:55

Editor's note: Honesdale High School Senior Molly Morgan (pictured) won the American Legion 15th District Essay Contest on the subject, "What is the American Legion and what does it do as an organization?" Morgan received the award at the monthly meeting of the Major David McKelvey Peterson Post 254, presented by 15th District Commander Tim French. She was also given a monetary gift by Jim Carbone, Commander of Post 254. This was the first time any submission from the Honesdale Post won the District Competition. Here is her winning essay:

Authorized by the 66th Congress in 1919, the American Legion set forth on a mission to improve communities and the lives of millions of youths across the nation. For 97 years the American Legion has remained honorable and successful in their service. Our nation has an unrepayable debt for the time and effort these men and women have devoted to our nation and the greater cause.

They have generously given countless of days serving during times of war and times of peace: deserving recognition and praise for their acts of sacrifice, faith and generosity. In every community a post is established. Active members include veterans of any of the U.S. military branches. The Navy, Air force, Army, Marines and Coast Guard are all well-represented and respected. The noble missions of the American Legion are to dedicate time to active military service members and veterans, fund community projects, provide guidance for youth, and defend as well as support patriotism and national security.

The American Legion has been and still is a non-profit organization. Receiving donations from private sponsors and volunteers. The main goals are separated into five different categories and include more than 44 different programs, which all essentially strive for the same mission. They include National Security, Community Service, Veteran's Affairs and Rehabilitation, Children and Youth, and Americanism. Without the programs and services, our nation would not be what is today. Virtues taught and illustrated consist of respect, courage, unity, confidence, humility, kindness, loyalty and determination. These various values continue to teach Americans authentic and genuine acts of character.

The policy of the American Legions national security statement is simply the preamble of the Constitution.

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

This powerful statement applies not only to the national security programs, but the American Legion as a whole. National Security programs emphasize their work on Junior ROTC, foreign relations, Prisoners of War (POW) and missing in action servicemen (MIA), support for troops and Operation Comfort Warriors. All of these programs enrich the lives of people involved in the military, as well as those seeking out a military career. There are multiple community service organizations that tend to the needs of those here on the home front. Family Support Network, Financial Assistance, National Emergency Fund and Sons of the American Legions are just some examples of the highly valuable community service organizations.

Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation contributes to the mental, emotional and physical restoration of veterans and active military personnel. American Legion members have the experience and understanding of what military men and women endure and have opened up their arms to comfort them and provide services that they may require. Programs such as Suicide Prevention, Homelessness, Education Center, Career Center, Benefit Center and Health Centers are all examples of assistance programs provided. Without these programs, millions of Americans would be lost in world of hopelessness. Children and Youth provide four basic services to the youth of America. Youth Support, Family Assistance, Scholarship opportunities and the Children Welfare Foundation sponsor and support children of all backgrounds. In 2014 alone the American Legion Child Welfare Foundation gave $566,691.00 to 18 different nonprofit organizations, which benefit children across the nation. The Americanism category provides affairs and activities for children and teenagers. Very successful programs include baseball, Flag Etiquette and Advocacy, Junior Shooting Sports, Scouting and Youth Cadet Law Enforcement. These activities influence communities all over. The communal feelings of unity, togetherness and friendship are what continue to fuel these programs.

"Selflessness" is the word that immediately comes to mind when thinking of the American Legion. Commitment, dedication, devotion and kindness are all exemplified by this organization. Veterans as well as active servicemen and women contribute their effort and time working toward the common goal of improving the lives of millions of United States citizens. They have served during times of war and now they choose to continue to serve the nation as leaders in their communities. Our nation will be forever grateful for the acts of selflessness that these men and women have done and continue to do. The impact of the American Legion has made is remarkable and admirable. The American Legion is composed of patriots who love their country and wish to offer all that they have to improve the lives of generations to come.

"Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth, 'you owe me.' Look what happens with love like that. It lights up the whole sky." — Hafiz

Works Cited
"Veterans Organizations." The American Legion. Web. 4 Feb. 2015. www.legion.org

"The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription." National Archives and Records Administration. 4 Feb. 2015. www.archives.gov