Cambridge (Dorchester) Post 91

American Legion News

Indiana, Kentucky, Washington earn top three spot in National Oratorical Finals

Source: May 18, 2024

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The top three high school orators of The American Legion's 85th National Oratorical Contest have been named after advancing through two rounds of competition among 49 other students who spoke on the U.S. Constitution Saturday, May 18, on the historic campus of Hillsdale College in Michigan. David Daniel of Owensboro, Ky., Knox Boyd of Lafayette, Ind., and Aubrey Moore of Renton, Wash., will compete in the National Oratorical Finals for a chance to win first place and a $25,000 scholarship. Second and third place will earn $22,500 and $20,000 respectively.

Watch the finals live Sunday, May 19, at 10 a.m. Eastern on The American Legion YouTube channel.   

Daniel, a high school senior, heard about the oratorical contest last year during his time at American Legion Boys Nation where he was elected president. He became distracted filling out college applications that he forgot about the contest until Legionnaires (from Post 9) called him and said, "'Hey, here's this amazing opportunity that can be just as transformative as Boys State, Boys Nation was for you.' This has been an amazing experience because it's put me in close contact with a lot of Legionnaires," Daniel said. "You go to an actual post to compete so being in an American Legion post, I didn't grow up in The American Legion or with veterans in my family, so being within that culture through this program has been amazing."

He is honored to be in the top three and speaking on a topic he cares about – mental health.

"I don't think there's anything more fulfilling than succeeding with something that you genuinely care about," he said, who learned about The American Legion's Be the One mission to save the lives of veterans from suicide during his time at Boys Nation. "I have a Be the One coin on me right now in my wallet."   

Daniel's prepared oration, "Running for Freedom," follows the story of Sgt. Earl Granville who lost his twin brother to suicide following their military service. Granville runs alongside other military servicemembers of the Achilles Freedom Team who carry cinderblock on their back and hand it to each other while running as a reminder that "no one has to carry this heavy mental burden alone. It's a message for the mental health of veterans and overall, what the Constitution stands for in civil unity," he said.

Daniel has always been interested in the Constitution because of his passion for politics, yet the Legion's oratorical competition has educated him more on the document. "This is the best program to get an in-depth view of amendments in the Constitution," he said. "Even before I started preparing for this competition, if you were to ask me to tell you the 25th Amendment Section III, I wouldn't have been able to tell you, much less most people."

As Daniel takes the finals stage tomorrow, he looks forward to "emotionally connecting with the audience because I don't want it to feel like I'm being graded, I don't want it to feel like I'm rehearsing a speech. I want it to feel like I'm talking about something that matters and that hopefully the people who hear my speech feel more informed or more persuaded to do something that's beneficial to our veterans or our society as a whole. The mindset that I went into preparing for this was, ‘what kind of speech would I give if this wasn't a competition?' And when you bring upon that kind of mindset you start focusing not on how to win a competition but what matters to you. If you have 10 minutes to talk about anything, what would you want to talk about and how would you want to make the people in the audience feel? I feel that's important not only for the competition, but the way you carry yourself in everyday life."

Boyd, a senior in high school, is familiar with the Legion's oratorical contest. His father competed in it back in the 90s, and his older sister did a few years ago. "I sat through all of her speeches, and the Legion post (38) members were like, ‘You're going to do this when you're in high school, right?' I was like sure!" This is Boyd's fourth time competing in the oratorical contest, but his first to win state and advance to the national level.  

"I didn't think I was going to make it this far so I'm so, so excited," he said. While walking up to the board that listed the top three state finalists, "I said, ‘Mom, there's only going to be three names on there.' Seeing Indiana up there was overwhelming. This has been something that I've put so much work into over the last few years …. and achieving it tells me I can have success in other things. I want to be a screenwriter and that's terrifying for me because it's really hard to succeed in that situation. But this kind of gives me the confidence that I'll be able to take with me for the rest of my life."

His focus on preparation is what has made a difference for Boyd winning state.

"It's all preparation," he said. "It took me a long time to learn myself and learn what I need to do to be adequately prepared, and what prepared looks like for me. Also, I've been involved in acting this whole time and that's a thing that feeds into this a lot. So everything I've learned on the stage, I've put into this. That's helped me a ton."

Boyd's prepared oration, "Out of Many, One," addresses "how the unity that's established in the Constitution is the foundation of both our culture and the freedoms that we are able to enjoy in the United States," he said. Boyd noticed that union was discussed a lot in the document, and he found several great stories about it. "I love to have a good story; that's my favorite thing to do in a speech. And with this, I want my audience to understand the gravity of how important union is and how important it is to believe in the idea that the United States doesn't exist without having people who disagree on things come together and be part of the union. Because everyone is an active participant in the United States. And it's important for everyone to understand that responsibility."

Public speaking is a skill that Boyd believes every youth should have, and while the Legion's oratorical contest is a great avenue for that skillset, it also provides an opportunity for high school students to become educated on the Constitution. "The most important thing I'll say is that it doesn't just get you to think about what's in the Constitution and the facts, but it gets you to think about why everything is in the Constitution and what that means. Because that's what you have to explain."

This is the first time Moore, a homeschool sophomore, has competed in the Legion's oratorical contest. She got involved in the competition because she enjoys public speaking, and it gave her an opportunity to study the U.S. Constitution in more depth, something she didn't think she would be interested in.

"Walking through this competition, learning all these new things, I've definitely had a greater appreciation for what the Founding Fathers did," she said. "It's important for high schoolers to be able to understand the Constitution because a lot of people today don't really understand what's going on in the American government, and they don't understand how society is operating. This competition, especially, just illustrates to other people that even though some kids are in high school we are still capable of doing great things and understanding (the Constitution)."

With writing the prepared oration on an aspect of the Constitution, Moore saw there were many paths to take. She wrote her prepared oration, "Saving Hate Speech," on the first amendment after hearing peers discussing what should and should not be said. In her research, she found lots of articles of how hate speech should be banned in the United States. "I thought this is an issue of extreme censorship and that's what prompted me to write my speech," she said. "In America, we have become so tolerant that we think it's ok to sensor all different kinds of speech and because of that tolerance, the push for tolerance, the right to freedom of speech is slowly going away in our society. What I want people to take away from my speech is that the foundational values that the Founding Fathers set in place and the amendments still matter in a society that has changed. Ultimately, we have to support people's right to speak."

Being around like-minded students who share a passion for public speaking has been fun for Moore.  "I think speech and debate, public speaking, is my thing. Everybody has a thing … somebody's sports, somebody's chess, somebody's academics. So it's been fun to meet all these other kids that speech and debate, public speaking, is their thing too."

Moore is looking forward to representing the Department of Washington in the finals tomorrow and is thankful for the opportunity The American Legion has given her with the competition.

"Everyone from The American Legion has been overwhelming kind and nice," she said. "It's been nice to be surrounded in a community of people who are very like-minded in the way that they care about America today and what it's going to be tomorrow and the future. The American Legion has taught me that there are lots of good people out there that want to take care of the youth of our country and raise us up to be future leaders."

 

 

 

 

 

Next article: Legion poised to help disaster victims through National Emergency Fund

Legion poised to help disaster victims through National Emergency Fund

Source: May 17, 2024

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With spring in full swing comes the threat of severe weather And while being prepared before weather strikes is vitally important, so is being prepared for afterwards.

That's where The American Legion's National Emergency Fund (NEF) comes in.

The NEF provides up to $3,000 for qualified Legionnaires or Sons of The American Legion, and up to $10,000 for qualified American Legion posts which have been affected by declared natural disasters.

To be eligible for an individual grant, the Legionnaire or Son:

1.     Must have been displaced from their primary residence due to damage sustained during a declared natural disaster.

2.     Must provide copies of receipts of items required to meet immediate needs, such as housing, food, water, clothing, etc., during the period immediately following the disaster.

3.     Must be an active member at the time of the disaster and the time of application.

The American Legion has created a presentation which discusses details on the NEF grant, including what the NEF covers and does not cover, and how to complete the NEF application. Click here to view that presentation.

For more details on the NEF, click here.

 

Next article: Seven things you didn't know about Armed Forces Day

Seven things you didn't know about Armed Forces Day

Source: May 17, 2024

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As Memorial Day especially honors deceased military veterans and those who died in action, and Veterans Day living veterans, Armed Forces Day especially honors current active-duty servicemembers on the third Saturday of May. Here are some other facts about the holiday.

1. President Harry Truman first instituted Armed Forces Day in 1950. When the separate departments for each military service branch were placed under the new Department of Defense in the late 1940s, it was decided that there should be one all-inclusive service day to recognize the uniformed branches and those who serve in them.

2. During the first Armed Forces Day, highlights included B-36 bombers flying over the capitals of every state; 10,000 troops and veterans marching in Washington, D.C.; and more than 36,000 participating in a parade in New York City. (CNN)

3. President John F. Kennedy officially made it a national holiday in 1961. (CNN)

4. Many countries observe some form of the holiday to honor their own armed forces. (Wikipedia)

5. Each year's Armed Forces Day has a theme. 2019's was "For the Nation. For the People."

6. Armed Forces Day is part of Armed Forces Week leading up to it, as well as of Military Appreciation Month.

7. The American Legion rekindled the World War I-era Blue Star Banner program after 9/11 for the families of those serving on active duty; Armed Forces Day is the perfect time to hold a Blue Star Salute for servicemembers and their families.

Next article: A deeper dive into core veterans issues

A deeper dive into core veterans issues

Source: May 16, 2024

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American Legion Tango Alpha Lima podcast co-host Stacy Pearsall's "After Action" PBS series tackles critical issues to veterans in its second season, which is being released this month.

Pearsall, a retired Air Force veteran, lifetime American Legion member and multimedia journalist, creates and produces the video series for PBS. The second season of "After Action," which kicked off May 1, is available here. The seventh and final episode will be published in June.

"While this is a veteran-centric series highlighting veteran and military community issues, the show is meant to inform all Americans — to help them get a better understanding of the military experience and to answer questions that people might feel uncomfortable asking," she says.

For civilians, it also takes military jargon and translates it into commonly understood language, Pearsall explains.

"We try to take that language and break it down as best we can," she says. "But the most important thing we do is to help people understand what that human experience is — from basic training and how that transformation happens and the lasting affect it has."

Season One, which features seven episodes here, focused on the servicemember's journey from basic training to TAPS.

The second season is a collection of seven stories that share different elements related to service. Topics include parenting, chaplaincy, women veterans, toxic exposure and Gold Star families.

"I am a member of the military community and there are still things I'm learning about every day," she says. "Often, I'm learning them in real-time during the filming of the ‘After Action' show. My hope is that my fellow Americans are as well – especially those who have an affiliation with a servicemember or veteran. For instance, the average nurse practitioner, caregiver, or physician can't know everything a veteran may be carrying with them. It is so much more complex than we think. The ‘After Action' show can help."

Sharing these stories is not only a labor of love for Pearsall, but also a way that she faces her own journey with post-traumatic stress disorder.

"It's healing; it's cathartic, knowing that the responses I have are not abnormal," she explains. "What we went through is such a unique experience. To find other people who have something similar in their background is rare."

Next article: ‘The Keeper' premieres in 16 theaters 

‘The Keeper' premieres in 16 theaters 

Source: May 16, 2024

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On May 1, U.S. Army veteran George Eshleman shared with American Legion Tango Alpha Lima Be the One podcast host Amy Forsythe how he planned to take his own life while hiking the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail. But while on the trail, he found a purpose: carrying name tapes of 363 veterans and servicemembers who had died by suicide.

Last night, that story was shared nationwide with the premiere of "The Keeper", the movie based on Eshleman's journey and the people he met along the way. The movie was shown in 16 theaters, including a special premiere at Cinemark Playa Vista in Los Angeles that included a red carpet event before the screening and a live Q&A session afterward that was streamed online. The theaters were chosen because of their close proximity to military bases.

The film centers on Eshleman, a member of American Legion Post 47 in Calhoun, Ga., and the support and comfort he receives from fellow hikers – both veterans and civilians. It's already receiving praise, having been named Best Independent Feature Film at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards.

At the Los Angeles premiere event, The American Legion's Be the One veteran suicide prevention program was on display on the publicity backdrop; a 30-second Be the One public service announcement also was shown before all of the screenings.

"The Keeper" hits theaters across the nation on Memorial Day Weekend. Additional special screenings can be found here.  Watch the official trailer from "The Keeper" here.

Next article: Spring Meetings resolutions available on Digital Archive

Spring Meetings resolutions available on Digital Archive

Source: May 16, 2024

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The 17 resolutions approved by the American Legion National Executive Committee at the 2024 Spring Meetings in May are now available on the Digital Archive. They cover administration and Internal Affairs, Membership & Post Activities, National Security and more. See the full list here.

The archive includes all current Legion resolutions, as well as national meeting digests and reports, issues of The American Legion Magazine and other publications, and much more.

Next article: Tune in to watch National Oratorical Finals live

Tune in to watch National Oratorical Finals live

Source: May 16, 2024

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The 85th American Legion National Oratorical Contest gets underway Saturday, May 18, at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Mich. The 52 high school participants won their respective American Legion post, district and department oratorical competition to advance to the finals where they will speak on the U.S. Constitution. See the list of competitors

The competitors will be divided into nine groups for the quarterfinals Saturday morning where before judges they will give an eight to 10-minute oration on the U.S. Constitution and a three to five-minute oration on a phase of the Constitution selected from Articles and Sections. The top 18 competitors will advance to the semifinal round Saturday afternoon where they will again present their prepared oration and assigned topics. The top three finalists from the semifinal round will advance to the finals Sunday, May 19. 

The finals will be held at 10 a.m. Sunday. Watch the competition live by visiting legion.org.

The top three finalists will win $25,000, $22,500 and $20,000 respectively.  

Next article: Be the One on full display during month of May

Be the One on full display during month of May

Source: May 15, 2024

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Just as the No. 8 American Legion Honda has been a regular presence on the track during this year's NTT INDYCAR SERIES, so also has been the Legion's activation display promoting the organization's Be the One veteran suicide prevention program.

That's especially true this month at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), where the display has been up and running two days already and also will be open May 17-19 for Indy 500 practice and qualifications, May 24 for Carb Day and then May 26 for the 108th running of the Indianapolis 500.

While the display has plenty of fun things to do, it also has a mission: to educate about Be the One and to provide service to veterans who may need assistance with filing or following up on U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' benefits claims.

American Legion Department of Indiana Assistant Director of Rehabilitation Bryce Hullett interacted with dozens of veterans last year during three race weekends at IMS, filing claims for some, and already has been able to help more this year during the two days of the Sonsio Grand Prix. With the display's expanded size, Hullett has an area in which to meet with veterans in a semi-private setting.

Also helping out at the display this month is American Legion Department of Indiana Commander Robert Oeth, a member of American Legion Post 351 in Eberfeld. Oeth also was at the track last weekend and is intending to be there for Indy 500 practice and qualifications.

For Oeth, it's about the mission of Be the One and who it helps. "It's all about the veteran," he said. "Suicide being one of the top issues that veterans are struggling with – not only the older veterans, but our newer veterans – it's very important just as a human being that we see some of the signs that we can point out or pick out and maybe get that veteran the help he or she needs."

The 40'x40' display is a collaboration between The American Legion and new agency partner Breaking Limits, which is owned by NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Bobby Labonte and his wife, Kristin. Display visitors have the opportunity to take the pledge to Be the One for a veteran. Those who do are given a lanyard and a badge with the words "I Will Be the One" on it; those who take the pledge and are seen by Legion staff and volunteers around the track have a shot at winning a prize that could include autographed items, seat upgrades or a Victory Lane photo with the race winner.

A "fast-pass" lane is in place to give veterans and active-duty military quicker access to the display's services and fun. Veterans and servicemembers have the ability to join the Legion, either through national or with whatever American Legion department is hosting the display.

The display also has hosted driver autograph sessions, has games for visitors to play, and houses thank-you gifts for veterans and servicemembers – including special gifts for Legionnaires.

In addition to every INDYCAR race weekend, the display this year also will be on hand for NASCAR races in Nashville (June 28-30), Bristol, Tenn. (Sept. 19-21); and Las Vegas (Oct. 18-20).

Oeth said between the display and the American Legion branding featured on Linus Lundqvist's No. 8 American Legion Honda, awareness for Be the One continues to grow.

"(Seeing the No. 8 on the track) sort of gives you shivers and goosebumps," he said. "We know the value of that Be the One logo and The American Legion logo being on that car for the world to see, not just us here in America. Any place that is races, it's that advertisement."

To learn more about the Legion's Be the One program – including how to participate in training sessions – click here.

Next article: Lundqvist, Palou refocus for Indy 500 qualifications

Lundqvist, Palou refocus for Indy 500 qualifications

Source: May 15, 2024

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Linus Lundqvist isn't quite sure what to expect when he hits the oval at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend for qualifications for the Indianapolis 500.

But the rookie driver of the No. 8 American Legion Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) knows he's got folks to lean on if he has any questions.

"I don't know. I've never done it before. I can't even imagine what it will be like," Lundqvist said. "Everybody just said that it's magical. I'm just going to go in with eyes wide open and ears wide open to try to see and listen and learn as much as I can. And when you've got teammates like Alex Palou and Scott Dixon, I'll have a glance over and see what they do."

Lundqvist picked up a third-place finish in the Children's of Alabama Indy Grand Prix on April 28 after starting the race 19th, and last weekend after starting in the same spot had moved up to eighth in the Sonsio Grand Prix. But a fuel issue with 20 laps to go caused him to lose a lap and finish 24th.

He's currently first in the INDYCAR Rookie of the Year standings and 14th in the overall points race as he continues to bring exposure to The American Legion's Be the One veteran suicide prevention program.

After the Sonsio Grand Prix, Lundqvist said refocusing on another race so quickly isn't as difficult for him as it his for his crew, which has little turnaround time to set up the No. 8 car for an oval, rather than a road course.

"I think it's easier for us drivers," he said. "All the guys and girls who work on the car really have the tough job here. It's a very quick turnaround, and it's a big change going from a road course car to a speedway car, especially when it's the Indianapolis 500. Us drivers, we just try to keep it clean and make it a little bit easier for them so they don't have to repair anything."

Defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES champ Alex Palou, who became the fastest polesitter in Indy 500 history last year, heads into this weekend with the momentum of another win on the IMS road course. Palou, driving the No. 10 DHL Honda featuring American Legion branding, won last weekend's Sonsio Grand Prix by more than six seconds and currently sits atop the INDYCAR points race. The 2023 win on the same course was the first of four in five races for Palou as he took control of the points race.

But he said momentum can easily disappear in INDYCAR. "Yeah, last year was special. We got the (road course) win here, the (500) pole then three wins in a row," Palou said. "It felt amazing every time we were on track. But it's tough. If something doesn't go 100 percent nowadays in INDYCAR, there's someone there to take the win from you. At Barber, I thought that we were in a really good position and then a yellow just took us out of the race for the win.

"I think this year it's been like that. We've been feeling that we're there, ready to fight, and didn't really get a chance until (the Sonsio GP), except St. Pete where we didn't really have speed."

In last year's 500, Palou already had led 36 laps and was running in the top on lap 95 when he was pinned against the wall by Rinus VeeKay following a pit stop. The nose cone on his car had to be replaced, which dropped Palou down to 28th in the field.

He was able to rally to a fourth-place finish, an achievement he said makes memories of last year's 500 a source of pride, rather than a disappointment.

"It wasn't easy, and it wasn't amazing for us when you have chances to win," Palou said. "But we had a really fast car and got into an accident on pit lane that wasn't our fault and wasn't in our control. From that point, we switched our game, and it was about recovering as many positions as possible. We did, from 28th to fourth, which was in my opinion as much as we could have done. I was proud of the job we did.

"I don't have bad memories from last year. I really have really good memories."

And while Palou would enjoy starting the 500 on the pole again, it's not the ultimate goal. "Yeah, the focus now is on qualifying, trying to get the pole. But we want to win the Indy 500," he said. "I love winning. Every race is important. That's what I think about every day I wake up. But the 500 would mean, I don't know what it would mean, honestly. I think it's so big, it has so much history behind it, has so much potential, and it separates the drivers from just normal drivers to legends, everybody that has won it. Yeah, would be amazing to win it.

"Man, if we're able to pull that off, I think it's going to be some crazy weeks after the Indy 500. We're working towards that. We know we have a fast car. Obviously, we got the pole here last year. But the competition is tight. They never give you anything."

This weekend's broadcast schedule (all times ET):

·         Thursday, May 16 – NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (Peacock).

·         Friday, May 17 – NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice, noon-6 p.m. (Peacock).

·         Saturday, May 18 – NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice, 8:30-9:30 a.m.; Day 1 qualifications, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. (both Peacock).

·         Sunday, May 19 – NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice, noon-2 p.m. ({Peacock); Pole Day qualifications, 3-6 p.m. (NBC and Peacock).

To learn more about the Legion's Be the One program – including how to participate in training sessions – click here.

 

Next article: New video aims to help SAL membership grow

New video aims to help SAL membership grow

Source: May 15, 2024

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Sons of The American Legion member Matt Chastain is the voice of a new video which details the history of the SAL and highlights what SAL and the Legion Family do.

Chastain previously shared the story of how he joined the SAL and, along with former Detachment of Georgia commander George Gray, encouraged those eligible to join to do so.

The new video, available to download here, elaborates on the SAL's history and what the SAL, American Legion Auxiliary and Legion Riders do to support the Legion itself.

The video also serves as a tool to help grow membership in the SAL and the Legion Family.

"As you talk to a potential member, it's encouraged to provide information on the other aspects of the American Legion Family," Chastain said. "It may make your membership efforts more successful."

 

Next article: Indiana, Kentucky, Washington earn top three spot in National Oratorical Finals