By: John Lenotte – October, 2013
As a continuation from last month, there are a few additional items of note from the American Legion National Convention in Houston, TX. One is the national oratorical champion. In addition to monetary winnings at the district/county and state level, Agnes Rieger of Kansas City received $18 thousand in scholarship money.
Very few participated from Essex County. The American Legion administers a scholarship from Samsung in which a Boys Nation or Girls Nation participant received a $20 thousand scholarship. Again, a small number from Essex County participate in Boys State or Girls State. Scholarships are also awarded to American Legion Baseball players and an Eagle Scout of the Year. Some of the scholarship winners also get a trip to the National Convention in whatever city it is being held in.
The location for 2014 is Charlotte, NC. I hope we see more participants next year. I mention this every year at this time in a fall article, but it seems to fall on deaf ears of school committees, administrators and parents. And this list does not include what is given at both the post and state levels. Given the rising costs of education, I continue to be surprised by the lack of participation.
On September 9 & 10, our 2 Past National Commanders from Massachusetts, Jake Comer, Paul Morin and myself went to Washington, DC along with about 150 other Legionnaires from most Departments. On Monday, we were briefed by the Washington Office staff and visited 2 Congressional offices. On Tuesday, we attended a breakfast at which several Senators and members of the House came to speak for a few minutes. This included Senator Barry Sanders, Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Our new National Commander, Dan Dellinger then presented testimony to a joint session of the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committees. His comments were well received. This can be seen online at www.legion.org
We then went to visit the remaining Congressional offices in the House. Representative Keating was available and spent about 20 minutes with us. In the other offices, we met with legislative staff. As in the past, Representatives Keating, Neal, McGovern and Lynch support the Flag Amendment. We are waiting to hear where Representative Kennedy stands.
Of note was that all the offices said there was a large number of calls and emails regarding the crisis in Syria, most saying Congress should vote NOT to intervene. For me, it reinforced that when we have issues of importance, we need to contact our Congressional representatives. This is best done by calling the local or Washington office. Another option is to send email. This is faster than traditional mail, which takes at least 2 weeks to get to their DC office. Let us remember this in the future and let our voices and strength in numbers be heard.
Given all the controversy about issues like: the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), Sequestration, the budget, the Benghazi attack, I would expect you are contacting the Congressional offices to voice your opinion. I have done so. Have you? When I attended Lawrence High School many years ago, we were taught in Civics class that it was our duty as citizens to vote and make our voices heard. Sixteen million Americans participated in World War II so that we could have the right to do so. And since then and up to today, men and women in uniform still fight to protect our rights. And people come from all over the world to be in the United States, land of the free because of the brave. As before, I continue to ask, join me in making our voices heard.
May God Bless our troops and their families.
John Lenotte is the American Legion, Commander, Wilbur M. Comeau Post 4 Haverhill and Vice Commander, Dept. of Massachusetts. He is also the recipient of The Valley Patriot Hero Award. You can Email him at JohnLDistrict8@verizon.net