PILLAR III: AMERICANISM For those looking to make differences in their local communities, The American Legion is a great place to start. From Legion Baseball to Boys State/Boys Nation to the Oratorical Contest, there are plenty of opportunities to make your mark.
Take, for example, the experience of Pat Unger, com-mander of Tyler Cates American Legion Post 281 in Mount Juliet, Tenn. Unger’s vision of creating a Legion Baseball team came true. The post provides support by supplying uniforms, attending games, serving refreshments and meeting players’ transportation needs.
“The enthusiasm and camaraderie among the Legion members and players has been one of the most rewarding experiences for everyone,” Unger says. “The experience of going to a baseball game and knowing that The American Legion is a driving force behind the teams is both gratifying and satisfying. American Legion Baseball is truly a rewarding and fun endeavor for any American Legion post to be involved with.”
Legion posts and volunteers like Unger coordinate each season, culminating with the Legion World Series in Shelby, N.C., watched by millions on ESPNU and ESPN3.
More than 100,000 young athletes compete for nearly 5,000 American Legion Baseball teams each year. Some of these baseball players go on to play professionally, including more than 80 who have been enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
” Relationships are what drive everything – especially in the game of baseball – and have the opportunity to form that kind of unity like we did with American Legion Baseball. It’s just as important as learning to field a ground ball. ”– Major League Baseball All-Star Brian Dozier, who played Legion Baseball for Post 49 in Tupelo, Miss.
BOYS STATE/BOYS NATION
Young men throughout the country learn firsthand how government works during American Legion Boys State and American Legion Boys Nation. From each Boys State program, two delegates are selected to attend Boys Nation in Washington, D.C., where they form a mock federal Senate and meet with top officials in the nation’s capital. www.legion.org/boysnation
JUNIOR SHOOTING SPORTS
American Legion youth air-rifle teams compete throughout the country for a possible berth in the National Junior Shooting Sports championships at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., each year. www.legion.org/shooting
The American Legion High School Oratorical Scholarship Program gives thousands of young people the opportunity to hone their speaking skills and learn about the U.S. Constitution. Competitions at the lo-cal and state levels lead up to the National American Legion High School Oratorical Contest in Indianapolis, where top finishers are awarded more than $138,000 in scholarships. www.legion.org/oratorical
YOUTH LAW CADET ENFORCEMENT
American Legion departments conduct a week-long American Legion Youth Cadet Law Enforcement Pro-gram for rising high school seniors that educates them about law enforcement and instills a newfound respect for law officials. www.legion.org/juniorlaw
BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA
American Legion posts nationwide sponsor more than 2,500 Scouting units and provide thousands of dollars in scholarships. The Legion offers a national scholar-ship for Eagle Scout of the Year, and the Square Knot Award for Legionnaires who work for the Scouting pro-grams in their communities. www.legion.org/scouting
At the national, state and local levels, The American Legion provides access to dozens of scholarships and education programs. For more information about Legion-affiliated scholarships and application materials, visit www.legion.org/scholarships.
The American Legion Legacy Scholarship provides college scholarships for children of military personnel who were killed on active duty since 9/11, or
have a combined VA disability rating of 50 percent or higher. The needs-based scholarship is designed
to fulfill a gap after all federal and state grants and scholarships have been used by eligible applicants. www.legion.org/scholarships/legacy
U.S. FLAG PROTECTION AND EDUCATION
The American Legion is the nation’s leading supporter of a constitutional amendment to protect the U.S. flag from desecration. Since a 5-4 Supreme Court decision in 1989 defined flag burning as free speech, The American Legion has advocated alongside members of Congress, the Citizens Flag Alliance and the majority of the American people to return to the states the right to enact flag-protection laws. The Legion is also the nation’s foremost authority on the proper disposal of unserviceable U.S. flags. www.legion.org/flag
The American Legion is actively involved in the sup-port, organization and coordination of high school Junior ROTC and college ROTC programs throughout the country. www.legion.org/rotc
American Legion posts serve as polling places, political debate venues and forums during campaigns. The Legion is a nonpartisan organization but takes an active role in the political process. www.legion.org/vote