THE AMERICAN LEGION - STILL SERVING AMERICA
General George S. Patton wore a hearing aid, but he was a man who never minced words. He once said Always do more than
is required of you. Patton was 34 years old when The American Legion was founded back in 1919 and Legionnaires have since
followed his advice.
The American Legion today is doing more than required and is still serving America, touching the lives of millions of
American veterans, their families, and communities, both nationally and here in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
Here is an example of how one American Legion post is doing more than required as exemplified by an excerpt from a letter
written by Mayor A. E. Peterson of Toluca, Illinois.
Ours is a community not so tremendously different from thousands of others throughout the United States. As mayor for
the city, I come in close contact with the civic and community activities of the local post of The American Legion. Let me
say without the least qualification that our Legion post is one of the most important and valuable influences that we have.
Mayor Peterson goes on to thank The American Legion for its Americanism programs, assistance to veterans and the generosity
of Legionnaires in working closely with the community. He concludes: The American Legion is today one of the greatest influences
for good in our community.
And when Mayor Peterson spoke for his own town, he also spoke for any town located in any state where the Legion serves,
including our own Louis K. Juden American Legion Post 63 here in Cape Girardeau,Missouri.
American Legion founders knew from first-hand experience that veterans would not always get a fair shake. This was a
major reason why they founded The American Legion. They realized that sometimes veterans needed a helping hand. They saw
their comrades return from World War I with TB, shell shock, poison gas injuries, and the loss of limbs and with no federal
agency there to help them.
The organization they created back in 1919 went on to dramatically change their lives, the lives of their fellow veterans;
and the lives of generations of veterans and other Americans yet unborn.
And, from the very first, there was a long-standing Legion commitment to veterans and their families; a covenant consistent
with the first rule of battle: We shall not fail those with whom we serve.
And, through the years, the Legion has earned a reputation of doing exactly what it set out to do; not just talking the
talk but walking the walk.
Shortly after its founding in 1919, the American Legion successfully lobbied for the creation of a Federal Veterans Bureau.
Then, in 1930, the Legion lobbied successfully for a much needed unified Veterans Hospital System.
Later, Legionnaires took a hard look at the limited opportunities available to returning World War II veterans. And
in 1944, they pioneered, wrote, and championed the historic GI Bill of Rights which opened educational opportunities for millions
of veterans and is considered one of the greatest pieces of social legislation in the history of our country.
In 1989, another major American Legion goal was achieved: The Department of Veterans Affairs was elevated to full cabinet-level
Today, the American Legion family numbers nearly three million members. And today, American Legion programs continue to
touch communities nationwide, just as they did over three quarters of a century ago.
Here are a few other examples of what the American Legion achieved recently:
The American Legion and its Auxiliary donated over 3 million hours of service to their communities.
American Legion Post Service Officers handled more than 254,000 veterans cases seeking benefits and compensation from
the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The American Legion and its Auxiliary devoted more than 1.5 million hours of volunteer service to VA hospitals.
Spent nearly 33 million dollars on programs benefiting children and youth.
Awarded nearly 14,000 medals to Junior ROTC students.
Sponsored nearly 24,500 American Legion Boys State and Boys Nation delegates.
Sponsored nearly 2,500 Scouting units serving 72,000 youngsters.
Sponsored more than 5,200 American Legion Baseball teams, plus an additional 2,400 youth baseball squads.
Awarded more than 5 million dollars in college scholarships to deserving students.
And awarded grants of nearly $2 million dollars from our American Legion Child Welfare Foundation.
Today, these commitments continue through a long-standing promise to be the Veterans Voice in Washington.
American Legion efforts at the national government level include petitioning Congress:
To once and for all, to make funding of the VA health care system mandatory, instead of discretionary, to ensure that
all veterans receive the timely and adequate care they earned and so richly deserve;
To fight for the creation of more state veterans nursing homes to meet the rising demand for nursing care;
To urge Congress to expand the size of our standing military forces. We simply need more troops to fill the gaps caused
by a far too small active duty force required to meet todays increased mission requirements;
To continue our commitment to Scouting which we started back in 1919. The American Legion stands with the Boy Scouts
before the Supreme Court to defend Scouting;
To defend the right of our children to recite the Pledge of Allegiance with the words under God and the American Legion
also stands before the US Supreme Court in defense of this right;
To continue our support for outstanding youth programs which include: American Legion Boys State and Boys Nation, Legion
Baseball, Junior Shooting Sports, and the National High School Oratorical Contest, last year spending over 25 million dollars
on these programs;
To continue to take care of our own through the American Legion National Emergency Fund, providing cash grants totaling
over 3 million dollars since 1989 to help victims of natural disasters;
To continue to fight for a Constitutional Amendment to restore the right to protect the flag from being desecrated as
it was when 100 million Americans ages witnessed on television our nations flag being used as a costume in a musical number,
tossed on the stage like a dirty shirt.
And, overseas. as our brave young Americans serve our country, we must ask ourselves ...
What of their children who were left behind?
The American Legions American Legacy Fund continues to grow every day, ensuring that the children of our military killed
in action will receive a quality education. We ask all Americans to contribute to this fund because its the least our nation
can do to honor our fallen heroes.
The American Legion Family Support Network provides assistance to thousands of families in need while their loved ones
serve overseas fighting terrorism.
Recently, America dedicated the National WWII Memorial recognizing the greatest generation. Its completion finally became
a reality, thanks in a large part to contributions of over 4.5 million dollars from our American Legion family.
But now, let us turn our attention to Cape Girardeau, Missouri and ask:
What is the Louis K. Juden American Legion Post 63 commitment to local veterans and citizens right here in our own community?
Well, we Post 63 Legionnaires like to say: When we get involved in Post 63, we get involved in Cape Girardeau!
And Getting Involved is a big reason why we recently built our new Post 63 facility; to better serve our local veterans,
their families, and our community. We are proud of our new home and we invite you to visit us at 2731 Thomas Drive here in
Here are some examples of how our local Post 63 got directly nvolved in our community last year:
Our Auxiliary held our Annual Poppy Day drive, collecting over $2,000 for veterans programs.
Our post participated in the Memorial Day celebration at the Osage Center.
Held our annual July 4th Post Picnic.
Participated in the annual September SE MO District Fair.
Our post Honor Guard participated in the annual July 4th celebration and the SE MO District Fair Parade.
Our Honor Guard also participated in the Christmas Parade, and various other veterans ceremonies and funerals.
We participated in the November Veterans Ceremony at Freedom Corner, Cape Rock Park.
Helped maintain and decorate Freedom Corner, Cape Rock Park throughout the year.
Participated at the local Pearl Harbor Ceremony.
Provided community Veterans' Services Assistance to veterans and their dependents.
Conducted our annual Post 63 Flag Day flag Retirement Ceremony.
Held our annual Thanksgiving, Christmas, and American Legion Birthday dinners.
Presented our annual Educator of the Year Award to a deserving Cape Girardeau public school teacher.
Our Post 63 Auxiliary sent supplies to our troops overseas and participated in a program to aid in the rebuilding and
supplying of Iraqi schools.
And we supported our local Veterans Home by volunteering over 4,000 hours of service.
Additionally, our Post 63 and Auxiliary Unit 63 got involved the following youth oriented programs:
We sponsored American Legion Baseball, with our own Doc Yallaly providing outstanding leadership.
Sponsored Boys State and Girls State, providing instruction in citizenship and government.
Made annual American Legion School Awards to local jr. high and high school students.
Sponsored the American Legion Junior Shooting Sports Program.
And our Auxiliary sponsored the Girl Scout Phone Card Program for our troops overseas.
Our post will continue with programs like these that touch peoples lives right here in Cape Girardeau.
And, by the way, remember Mayor Petersons letter, the one that was mentioned earlier about his own towns American Legion
His letter was written back in May of 1922.
And Indeed, that same American Legion post, to this very day, is still serving its community with great pride,
as does our own American Legion Post 63 which has served Cape Girardeau with equal pride since its beginning back in 1920.
And today, we assure you that our American Legion Post 63 mission remains clear:
To serve Cape Girardeau, our fellow veterans, and our troops and their families, and our community...
by as General Patton liked to say: doing more than is required.
And to preserve, safeguard, and perpetuate the great values and traditions passed on to us by our Legion founders and
our forefathers ...
as was so eloquently described by President Ronald Reagan at his Second Inaugural Address in 1985, when he said:
Now we hear again the echoes of our past. A general falls to his knees in the hard snow of Valley Forge; a lonely President
paces the darkened halls, and ponders his struggle to preserve the Union; the men of the Alamo call out encouragement to each
other; a settler pushes west and sings a song, and the song echoes out forever and fills the unknowing air. It is the American
sound. It is hopeful, big-hearted, idealistic, daring, decent and fair! That is our heritage. That is our song.
And those eloquent words also define our own Louis K. Juden American Legion Post 63 heritage which ,since 1920, is "Still