Benton County - Post 217 - Warsaw Missouri USA

American Legion News

Five Things to Know, May 20, 2024

Source: May 20, 2024

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1.   Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, the country's foreign minister and others have been found dead at the site of a helicopter crash after an hourslong search through a foggy, mountainous region of the country's northwest, state media reported. Raisi was 63. State TV gave no immediate cause for the crash in Iran's East Azerbaijan province. With Raisi were Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, the governor of Iran's East Azerbaijan province and other officials and bodyguards, the state-run IRNA news agency reported.

2.   New recruits and incoming officers into the military would not have to undergo mandatory cannabis testing under the House's version of an annual must-pass defense policy bill. The draft of the 2025 National Defense Authorization Act bars the services from requiring an individual to submit to marijuana testing as a condition of enlisting or commissioning. Supporters of the measure believe it will help the military attract recruits at a time when few young people want to or are eligible to serve.

3.   U.S. troops ordered out of Niger by the West African country's ruling junta will complete their withdrawal by the middle of September, the Pentagon and Nigerien defense officials said Sunday. The timeline was the product of four days of talks between the countries' defense officials in the capital city of Niamey, according to a joint statement. Niger's decision to kick out American forces dealt a blow to U.S. military operations in the Sahel, a vast region south of the Sahara desert where groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group operate.

4.   Taiwan's new president, Lai Ching-te, said in his inauguration speech Monday that he wants peace with China and urged it to stop its military threats and intimidation of the self-governed island that Beijing claims as its own territory. "I hope that China will face the reality of (Taiwan)'s existence, respect the choices of the people of Taiwan, and in good faith, choose dialogue over confrontation," Lai said after being sworn into office.

5.   Hundreds of Air Force members in dress blues joined Roger Fortson's family, friends and others at a suburban Atlanta megachurch on Friday to pay their final respects to the Black senior airman, who was shot and killed in his Florida home earlier this month by a sheriff's deputy. People lined up well before the start of the service at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Stonecrest to file past the open coffin and say their goodbyes to Fortson, who was shot six times by a deputy responding to a May 3 call about a possible domestic violence situation at Fortson's apartment complex in the Florida Panhandle. He was 23.

Next article: Can you sound taps?

Can you sound taps?

Source: May 20, 2024

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Registration is open for the 5th annual Taps Across America event, to be held nationwide on Memorial Day at 3 p.m. local time, including at the National World War I Memorial.

Sponsored by the nonprofit Taps for Veterans, Taps Across America is open to any instrumentation and musicians of any age or ability who can sound Taps. It originally began in 2015 by retired Air Force bugler and American Legion member Jari Villanueva – a member of Dewey Lowman Post 109 in Halethorpe, Md. – but took off nationally in 2020 when picnics, parades and other celebrations were canceled due to the pandemic. It provides volunteers who sound Taps for military funerals and ceremonies.

The response was overwhelming in 2020, with more than 10,000 musicians joining together for one unifying event in a nationwide salute to remember fallen servicemembers.

"Taps Across America is an all-inclusive patriotic event that unites the country together for a memorable and honorable day. It offers anyone who plays an instrument an opportunity to honor, reflect and remember our fallen servicemembers in the true spirit of Memorial Day," said Taps for Veterans executive director Mark Paradis. "Past participants appreciate the chance to pay their respects and preserve the legacy of this important event for years to come."

Fleet Farm has graciously partnered for the fourth year with Taps for Veterans to hold a special Memorial Day ceremony at each of their 49 local stores throughout the Midwest.

To register or for more information, visit

Next article: Time runs out on Indy 500 pole opportunity for Palou

Time runs out on Indy 500 pole opportunity for Palou

Source: May 19, 2024

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NTT INDYCAR points series leader Alex Palou was forced to play the waiting game when trying to advance to Day 2 of the Indianapolis 500 qualifications. And then time ran out.

After having qualified in seventh on Saturday – which would have safely put him in Sunday's Fast 12 and have a shot of repeating as the race's polesitter – Palou was dropped down to 13th and then later 14th. His car was lined up for more than 90 minutes for a second qualifying run, including in the No. 2 spot for at least the final 20 minutes of the day's session.

But car after car chose to go through the Lane 1 priority qualifying line, which nullifies the driver's previous qualifying time but gives he or she priority access to the track. Rinus Veekay, who was one spot ahead of Palou in Lane 2, was able to get off his qualifying run. But Graham Rahal was able to go out ahead of Palou via the priority lane just before 5:50 p.m. rolled around, ending the session.

Driving Chip Ganassi Racing's No. 8 DHL Honda with American Legion branding, Palou will start the 500 in the 14th spot after a qualifying average of 232.306. Rookie teammate Linus Lundqvist, driving the No. 8 American Legion Honda promoting the Be the One suicide prevention initiative, delivered a four-lap average of 231.506 to qualify 27th and start in the ninth row.

Palou hit the track in the 25th qualifying spot and opened at 232.615, followed by laps of 232.281, 232.228 and 232.100. The effort moved him into the seventh spot on the grid, but as others qualified and requalified throughout the day, he moved down to just inside the top 12, sitting at 11th heading into the final hour of the day.

"It was not a good day," Palou said. "It started to look a bit better than yesterday after all of the issues we had. But it was just a shame we didn't get another run. But it's OK, starting P14 I think we can still make it happen next Sunday."

Lundqvist drew the 16th spot in the qualifying order and delivered an opening lap of 231.898 mph. He followed with 231.614, 231.471 and 231.043. He also ended the day in Lane 2 hoping for another qualifying run.

"First things first, we qualified for the Indianapolis 500, which I'm happy to have done," Lundqvist said. "Obviously the No. 8 American Legion Honda team hoped for more, we hoped to get another run at it, but it is what it is. I think we have a really good race car, so we are just going to get back at it next weekend, hopefully pass some cars and have some fun."

 Will Power finished first in Day 1 qualifying with a four-lap average of 233.758. On Sunday, Scott McLaughlin won the pole with an average of 234.220.

Practice for the 500 resumes on Monday, May 20. The 108th running of the Indianapolis 500 begins at 12:45 p.m. ET on May 26.

Next article: 2024 National Oratorical winner from Washington state

2024 National Oratorical winner from Washington state

Source: May 19, 2024

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Aubrey Moore of Renton, Wash., won The American Legion's 85th National Oratorical Contest, "A Constitutional Speech Contest," and a $25,000 scholarship on Sunday, May 19, in Hillsdale, Mich.

Before walking on stage inside an auditorium on the campus of Hillsdale College to give her prepared oration before family, judges, Legionnaires and the other 49 participants, Moore calmed her nerves by dancing and singing as she was the first of the top three finalists to speak. Then the homeschooled sophomore reminded herself that "this is the last time I'm going to do this speech so might as well make it a good one," she said following her win, which feels "amazing. I feel really happy and really excited and also just kind of surprised that I was able to make it this far and be able to compete so well."

Second-place and a $22,500 scholarship was awarded to Knox Boyd of Lafayette, Ind. Third place and a $20,000 scholarship was awarded to David Daniel of Owensboro, Ky.

Click here to watch the prepared orations and assigned topic speeches from Moore, Boyd and Daniel.

In her winning oration, titled "Why Freedom of Speech is in Danger," Moore shared that, "Throughout American history, all kinds of opinions, thoughts, and beliefs have been voiced no matter the sentiment, because whether or not you approve or hate what I say, you must support my right to say it. This is the power of free speech. And yet in recent years, we have seen a pushback on this fundamental right.

"Our neighbors, our friends, and our communities are gradually supporting the decision to ban hate speech, but what our country does not realize is the implication of that decision. A ban on hate speech leads to a ban on all speech. This is why the Constitution must vow to protect it. Noam Chomsky, a renowned intellectual and political activist, once said, ‘If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.' So I encourage you, the next time you hear someone say something that makes you grind your teeth, see a post you hate, or read an opinion piece you disagree with, to remember to appreciate the fact that the Constitution protects your power to speak, no matter what you speak about."

With this being Moore's first American Legion oratorical contest, she learned in the research process that you have to write "something that your passionate about. It never works when you try to twist things just to please the audience. People can tell when you're passionate about something, and you want to convey that message I think for me that's what made my speech so successful because I love what I was saying, and I wanted other people to love it too."

Moore, who was sponsored by American Legion Post 186, was nervous to compete in the oratorial contest starting at the post level but is thankful she put herself out there and tried.

"This win means I can do anything that I apply myself for and apply myself to," she said. "This has taught me the lesson that you have to try new things even if you are uncomfortable with it and if you apply yourself, you can reap the rewards."

The opportunity to try something new gave Moore greater insight into the U.S. Constitution and an appreciation for the document, along with an opportunity to be around like-minded high school students.

The American Legion's oratorical contest "has instilled in me a greater appreciation for our country," she said. "And seeing everybody here in this environment that everybody cares very deeply about America, it's history and what it's going to be in the future. Being here and seeing all these people come together to celebrate American values, at least for me, has made me feel very patriotic.

"It's taught me a lot about our nation's document, it's taught me about America and what our Founding Fathers did. It's given me a greater appreciation for it. And I appreciate all the people I have met, even from my own state. Meeting these people and having this experience is something everybody should do."



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

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, Joshua, won the National Oratorical Finals in 1990, and his older sister competed a few years ago. "I sat through all of her speeches, and the Legion post 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, "Why Freedom of Speech is in Danger," 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: Five Things to Know, May 20, 2024