Service to the community was the emphasis of a proclamation by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal last week naming Sept. 16 as American Legion Day, and another signed Monday by Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas.
Deal and Thomas praised the 95-year-old organization for training thousands of Georgia youth on government awareness and good citizenship through its Americanism and youth programs. Both proclamations noted the Legion was chartered by Congress on Sept. 16, 1919, as a wartime organization based on veterans affairs and rehabilitation, national security, Americanism and youth.
Noted highest among the Legion’s legislative accomplishments is the G.I. Bill of Rights, which was written by Legionnaires. The bill passed in June 1944.
“The members of the American Legion are dedicated to upholding the ideals of freedom and democracy while working to make a difference in the lives of fellow Americans,” Thomas said. “The observance of American Legion Day provides an opportunity to recognize Legionnaires in our community for their many contributions.”
Thomas listed some contributions of local Legion posts as he handed the proclamation to Dennis Fitzgerald, commander of Post 321. Among that post’s contributionsare volunteering at fire stations, mentoring youth groups and collecting and distributing holiday baskets to needy families and churches. The East Liberty County Post also leads the annual Veterans Day parade in Hinesville.
Randy Goodman, commander of American Legion, Department of Georgia, said he was grateful to the governor for the proclamation, noting that it was significant to him that the Legion be recognized on its 95th anniversary. He said the American Legion is the largest veterans’ service organization with more than 2.4 million wartime veterans. There are 237 posts in Georgia, he said.
Fitzgerald expressed similar gratitude to the mayor for his support, including approval for a permit for the Veterans Day parade on Nov. 11.
Last week, Post 321 held a 9/11 observance in Midway that included veterans and first responders. Following the ceremony, members met to talk about upcoming events. A 5K fun run is scheduled for Nov. 1.
“The fun run is one of the ways we raise money to buy food for the holiday food baskets,” finance officer Jeff Bowen said. “Last year, we gave away more than 70 food baskets. We also gave away turkeys to fire departments and churches. Every penny that comes into this fundraiser goes back out as food we can give away.”
Bowen said run registration is $15 for people 15 and older. On race day, registration is $20 and starts at 7 a.m. The race starts at the Historic Midway Church at 8 a.m. The race also includes a costume run/walk for children, he said.