April Commander’s Corner
Elections were held this month for the upcoming year with the following people filling the positions of Commander: Tricia Thurston, 1st Vice: Marcel Martineau, 2nd Vice: Robert McPherson, Adjutant: Dane Curato, Chaplain: Scott Touchette, Sgt-of-Arms: Jeremy Pulk, Americanism: Fred Milligan, Service Officer: John Kezal. Executive Committee: Ralph Arsenault, Mike Mann, Edward J. Roach Jr. and Joe Arsenault. The following positions are vacant at this time: Finance Officer and Historian. If anyone is interested in applying for any of the vacant positions, leave a message at the Post for the Commander.
The position of Finance Officer is important to fill. District 5 (Oxford County) held their elections for the upcoming year at Post 82 in Norway on March 20. The following people where elected. Commander: Kirk Thurston, Post 24 Rumford, 1st Vice: Harold Wilbur, Post 151 West Paris, 2nd Vice: Joe Cooney, Post 72 South Paris, Adjutant: Neil Bickford, Post 112 Oxford, Finance Officer: Rich Grover, Post 81 Bethel, Sgt-at-Arms: Charlie Green, Post 100 Dixfield, Chaplain: Marcel Martineau, Post 24 Rumford and Service Officer: Del Wilson, Post 68 Locke Mills.
The Rumford Legion Hall welcomed the wonderful group that follows the Holy Savior School Annual Auction. What a fun time and all for a good cause. On Sunday, Cub Scout Pack 580 will have their Blue and Gold Banquet at the hall. This is when the boys receive awards and patches for their achievements throughout the past year. The following Sunday, April 21, there will be a fundraiser for Alice Dixon from Andover. For those that know Alice she is always one of the first to help someone in need. She is facing another bout with cancer and it is taking a toll on her and her husband Ken. This will be a spaghetti supper/dinner from noon to 6 p.m. and raffles throughout the day. We all remember Western Maine Federation suppers and meetings at Andover Fire house with Alice in the kitchen at the helm.
The American Legion’s Position this month is Religious Freedom. The American Legion staunchly defends the religious symbols and references that are currently under attack. The ACLU and other groups have collected millions of dollars in U.S. tax money to pay attorney fees in lawsuits against the use of religious symbols in veterans’ memorials.
Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S. Code Section 1988, allows groups to collect taxpayer dollars to award attorney fees in cases involving the constitutionally-protected expression of religion by state and local officials.
Past Congresses have introduced legislation to correct this injustice, which would have prohibited the use of tax payer money to fund attorney fees for cases in which they were suing over the use of religious symbols on public property. On March 26, 2011, Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., introduced H.R. 2023, the Veterans’ Memorials, Boys Scouts, Public Expressions of Religion Protection Act,” which would also protect these symbols. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.
By stopping the public funding of these frivolous suits, a strong incentive is removed from those who wish to remove all references to God from society. The American Legion believes Boys Scouts should be able to meet in publicly owned locations, the Pledge of Allegiance should keep the phrase “under God” and crosses, stars of David and other religious symbols can be displayed on public property. If the ACLU were allowed to remove a cross from a veteran’s memorial, what is to stop the removal of crosses from the graves of America’s heroes buried in veterans’ cemeteries? Military and congressional chaplains, Christmas observances and “In God We Trust” on coins could all be threatened.
The American Legion has many allies in this important fight. The largest veterans service organization has joined with the Liberty Institute (www.libertylegal.org) and the Alliance Defense Fund (www.alliancedefense-fund.org) to defend and protect our nation’s war memorials from the legal attacks by the ACLU, Freedom from Religion Foundation, the American Atheist an other like-minded organizations. While The American Legion and its friends won what was widely perceived to be a victory on the U.S. Supreme Court in the defense of a cross at a memorial in the Mojave Desert, the fight is far from over. The cross was removed by vandals and going into the summer of 2011, National Park officials would not allow a replacement cross to be placed at the site since it was not part of the disputed memorial.
With the aid of its members and local posts, The American Legion will remain vigilant in monitoring any threats to these memorials.
Getting Congress to pass and the President to sign a Public Expression of Religion Act is a small but important battle in the war to preserve religious freedom in America. Ask your senators to introduce legislation to do this and for your representatives to vote for HR 2023.
The American Legion Program for this month is Temporary Financial Assistance. “A hand-up, not a hand-out” is one way to describe The American Legion’s Temporary Financial Assistance (TFA) program. TFA provides cash assistance to help meet the basic needs of veterans’ children when it is established that no other resources are available to provide the required assistance. As the name implies, the grants are for temporary purpose.
Veterans need not be members of The American Legion, but they must have served on active duty during one of the Legion’s eligibility periods. Their children, stepchildren or children in their legal custody must be 17 or younger and not married. Children 18 to 20 years old will be considered if a current physical disability requires special schooling or indefinite in-home care or if they are enrolled in an approved high school. Applications are available at department headquarters (Waterville) and from the department’s Children & Youth chairman. Through TFA, The American Legion sends a message that it does not turn its back on the children of America’s veterans during time of personal emergency.
On Wednesday, April 17 at Post 24 in Rumford installation of newly elected officers will be held for Post 100 (Dixfield), Post 24 (Rumford) and District 5 at 7 p.m. A light lunch will be served at 6. This event is open to all legionnaires and the public.
Next month’s meeting will be May 5 with supper at 5 p.m. and the meeting at 6. Membership is currently at 92% which means at least 39 members have not paid their 2013 dues. If you are a past member and thinking about rejoining the ranks then please call the Post and get the information you need. We are always looking for new members and new ideas to further the life of The American Legion. Stop by and see an old friend or make a new one.