By Henry Howard
Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. J. Stewart Goodwin offered perspective to the shivering crowd during his welcome at the Indianapolis Veterans Day service Nov. 10 at the Indiana War Memorial.
“I want you to think about those who were at Valley Forge, where it was 6 degrees and they did not have the equipment we have today,” said Goodwin, executive director of the Indiana War Memorial. “I want you to think about those who were at the Battle of the Bulge where records show that they had to start equipment — trucks and tanks — once an hour to keep them from freezing up. And, last but not least, remember those who served in the Korean War, especially the Chosin Reservoir, where it was recorded at minus 22 degrees and the equipment they had was less than beneficial.”
The ceremony highlighted veterans from throughout American history, but focused on the armistice that ended World War I, 100 years ago on Sunday, Nov. 11.
“Today, we take that sacrifice and we carry it on, from the standpoint they fought in this weather and we will celebrate in this weather,” Goodwin said.
Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Navy veteran, said Veterans Day represents a time to honor all veterans while paying a special tribute this year to those who served during World War I.
“There are no surviving links to that war,” Holcomb said. “And that is why it is up to us — now more than ever — to remember the men and women that served over there, because that is where all this started. Armistice Day evolved into Veterans Day. It is an opportunity for all of us to honor veterans, all who served in war and in peace, at home and abroad.”
Holcomb recalled his recent participation in the last Honor Flight out of Lafayette, 60 miles northwest of Indianapolis. World War II, Vietnam and Korean War veterans from around Indiana visited memorial sites in Washington, D.C.
“At times it’s hard for us to recognize these heroes because they take off those uniforms, those cloths,” the governor said. “They camouflage themselves right back into society. But they are here among us everywhere you look. They are neighbors. They are teachers. They are business owners, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, moms and dads. We are grateful for their sacrifice.”
U.S. Rep. Todd Young, a Marine Corps veteran, greeted his fellow Marines in the audience, “I wish you a comfortably cool Marine Corps birthday.”
Young focused his keynote speech on comparing moments in civilians’ lives to those experienced by military families.
“Veterans and their families have a unique perspective on life and death that is more finely tuned,” Young said. “Elected leaders, community leaders and other Americans deal with important decisions every day. Some are issues that can be considered life and death. Most are not.”
Young showed a bracelet that he says gives him perspective when he considers difficult decisions as a lawmaker. The bracelet was presented to Young by the mother of Lance Cpl. Alec Terwiske, a Marine from DuBois, Ind., who was killed Sept. 3, 2012, in Afghanistan.
“She asked me to wear the bracelet. I do so proudly every day,” Young said. “This bracelet helps me keep the right perspective on things that matter most. Like honoring our commitment to honor the men and women who serve this country. It takes a special person to take up arms in defense of this country. It requires a true belief, a true conviction. In the words of my fallen comrade, John McCain, ‘a cause greater than oneself.’ A desire to put your life on the line for Americans you will never meet.
“We honor all of those who have served. Today, we say thank you to Americans of all faiths.”
To honor veterans, the ceremony included a laying of a victory wreath and the tolling of the USS Indianapolis’ bell — one time for each of America’s 12 wars from the Revolution to the ongoing War on Terrorism.
American Legion Department of Indiana Commander Rodney Strong noted the importance of the centennial anniversary of the end of the Great War, which coincides with the birth of The American Legion.
“Veterans Day is very special for all of us who are veterans,” Strong said. “We recognize all of those who have passed and all of our veterans. It’s very special, especially this year — being 100 years after the armistice.”
Strong received an award from the Veterans Day Council of Indianapolis for outstanding service to The American Legion. “It’s nice to be recognized for what we have done. It’s a big honor.”
He was among dozens of American Legion Family members who participated in the parade after the ceremony.
Strong, a member of American Legion Post 72 in Crawfordsville, is proud of the support the Legion, veterans and the military community receive in Indianapolis — the city with the second-most memorials dedicated to veterans, behind only Washington, D.C.
“Indianapolis has supported Veterans Day, The American Legion and others really well,” he said. “They come out and support us.”
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Photos by Tim Sproles
The 2018 Indianapolis Veterans Day Parade was held on Saturday, November 10th. Hoosiers braved the frigid weather and biting colds to come out and honor our Nation's Veterans.
The Veterans Day Council of Indianapolis, who sponsored the Veterans Day Parade, honored the Commander of The American Legion Department of Indiana, Rodney Strong, with a special award, presented by Senator Todd Young, to recognize his contributions to make this event a success.
The annual Veterans Day Service was held on the steps of the Indiana War Memorial and included greetings from Governor Eric Holcomb and Mayor Joe Hogsett.
Immediately following the service, the parade began. More than 80 units march in the parade which began at Michigan and Pennsylvania Streets, moved south on Pennsylvania to New York Street, west to Meridian Street and finished at North Street.
The Hoosier Legion was honored to have Mayor Joe Hogsett mark along side with us.
Special thanks to everyone who came out to support this great event. We will see you Next Year!!!
Story and Photos by Tim Sproles
The American Legion Department of Indiana held its Fall Conference from Friday, October 5 through Sunday, October 7 at the Marriott East Hotel in Indianapolis.
The Fall Conference is held annually for Legionnaires from across the state to discuss and vote on Legion business, recognize Legionnaires and local heroes for their service and deliver valuable information to the membership.
The Conference hosted multiple committee meetings with one General Session for Legionnaires to conduct Legion business.
This year, the Department was honored to have our newly elected National Commander of The American Legion, Brett P. Reistad in attendance during the weekend. He also addressed the Hoosier Legion as an honored speaker at the general session, saying, “I’m honored to represent you as your centennial National Commander. These are historic times for The American Legion. Coming off our 100th National Convention in Minneapolis, and preparing for our 100th Birthday in March. It’s a time to celebrate our legacy.”
One of the ways Cmdr. Reistad plans to help celebrate our legacy is with the formation of “Team 100.”
Reistad said, “Team 100 is a group of like-minded Legion Family members dedicated to increasing membership and practicing our four pillars. We plan to remind the public why The American Legion has been such an important force in our communities for over 100 years.”
Distinguished visitors also included the Auxiliary Department of Indiana’s President, Betty Slagle and the Sons of The American Legion Detachment of Indiana Commander, Doug Heiser, whom both brought greetings to the session.
The Department also had awards to present, including a National level award given to a Hoosier first responder.
First up, the Department recognized cadets from the first annual Indiana Youth Cadet Law Enforcement program. Dominick Kimbrough and Nathan May were the recipients of the Spirit Award, given to both a male and female cadet for having an outstanding attitude and motivation that seems to be contagious to the cadets around them. Henry Massing took home the Integrity Award, given to a cadet who displays strong moral principles throughout the week. Veronica Matthews earned the Mental Attitude Award, presented to a cadet who held a great attitude throughout the week. Logan Stirn earned the Most Improved Cadet, and Leah Rusk was named the Most Athletic Cadet.
The final IYCLEA award was the Top Cadet of 2018 award, presented to Dawson Patrick.
Department Children and Youth Commission Chairman, who is also Chairman of the Indiana Youth Cadet Law Enforcement Program, Mark Gullion, said, “A lot goes into the selection of the recipient of this award. Physical fitness and mental toughness play a part, but we also look for leaders in the group. This cadet not only pushed himself to perform at the highest level but also pushed others to do the same. He exemplifies everything we hope to see in our future cadets.”
Next, the Department honored a Hoosier Legionnaire with The American Legion Square Knot Award. Michael Macku, sponsored by Post 59 in the 9th District. Macku was honored for his continuous service of over 20 years as an adult leader for the Boys Scouts organization.
National Commander Reistad also presented Corporal Clifford Hibbs of LaGrange, Indiana with the Central Region Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award.
The session ended with monetary donations from Legionnaires and posts around the state. Altogether, over $27,000 was donated to assist funding various National and Department programs.
The Department will meet again for the annual Mid-Winter Conference from January 11 – 13, 2019. A variety of training will be offered to include blocks of instruction on how to use Mylegion.org and the National organization’s new E-Check Transmittal process, as well as updates from Gaming and Excise.
Story and Photos by Tim Sproles
Official party for Operation: Race to 100 poses for a picture with the Legion Family at Lafayette Post 492. The mission of Operation Race to 100, is to conduct a four-day, statewide tour featuring National and Department level leadership and showcasing American Legion Posts within each of the 11 Districts of the Department of Indiana. Photo by Tim Sproles
It was a four-day trip that covered close to 1,000 miles across the Hoosier state.
The membership drive-around, called Operation: Race to 100, was put together by The American Legion Department of Indiana Commander, Rodney Strong, and Membership Chairman Ron Hoaks to not only collect membership cards but to also give Legionnaires across the state an opportunity to meet with both Department and National leadership.
Ron Hoaks said, “The name of this drive around says it all. During Operation: Race to 100, we want to continue our work of chasing 100% membership in our Department, while also celebrating 100 years of service of The American Legion”.
Operation: Race to 100 traveled to each of Indiana’s 11 districts and stopped at 15 posts along the way.
Cmdr. Strong said, “I think bringing our Legion Family leadership face to face with our volunteers is extremely important. Our Legion Family is what keeps us moving forward everyday. This is a chance for us to say thank you in person”.
The Department officers didn’t travel alone. The Department had the honor of hosting The American Legion National Commander, Brett Reistad and Auxiliary National President Kathy Dungan during the drive around.
On day one, the traveling party loaded up in four vans and headed out from the Department Headquarters to visit three posts. The day started with Beech Grove Post 276 and from there headed to Atkins Saw Post 355.
While on ground at post 355, a Hoosier Legionnaire earned special recognition from Cmdr. Reistad.
During a stop at Atkins Saw Post 335, the Department of Indiana’s 10th District Commander, Laurie Bowman is presented with a special “Commander’s Commendation” pin by The American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad for her hard work and dedication to recruit members to the Legion. The mission of Operation Race to 100, is to conduct a four-day, statewide tour featuring National and Department level leadership and showcasing American Legion Posts within each of the 11 Districts of the Department of Indiana. Photo by Tim Sproles
Laurie Bowman, 10th District Cmdr., the Commander’s Commendation pin for her hard work recruiting members to The American Legion.
“I was extremely humbled by this recognition”, said Bowman. “Cmdr. Reistad told me that he had heard so many great things about me that he felt compelled to present me his commendation pin and his challenge coin’.
The group finished day one with a stop at Crawfordsville Post 72, the home post of our Department Commander, Rodney Strong. The Post 72 Legion Family came out in full force.
Cmdr. Strong said, “It is always great to come home to post 72 and they never dissapoint. We had local first responders, media and the Mayor of Crawfordsville, Todd Barton also came and present a proclomation stating that October 7th will now be hailed as National Commander – Brett P. Reistad Day in the City of Crawfordsville. I can’t express how proud I am of this post, our Legion Family and the entire city”.
Day two of the drive-around was extremely busy. The traveling party stopped at five posts and traveled close to 300 miles. First stop was West Lafayette Post 492 then it was off to Morocco Post 146, where the group heard a brief from the founder of Operation Combat Bikesaver, Jason Zaideman.
“At OCB, we aim to connect veterans suffering from the mental effects that can be caused by their service with tarnished motorcycles that need to be rebuilt. We believe that breathing new life into these motorcycles by honing in on learned skill sets can help to relinquish the deafening grasp Post Tramitic Stress, Tramatic Brain Injury and Depression can have on these Veterans”, said Zaideman.
The group also visited Griffith Post 66, Nappanee Post 154 and finished up day two at North Webster Post 253 where the Kosciusko County Sheriffs Office and the North Webster Police escourted that traveling party through town and right up to the front doors of the post.
Day 3 kicked off early in the morning with a stop at La Grange Post 215. From there it was off to Auburn Post 97, then to Fairmount Post 313, where members of the Legion riders and a team from the Fairmount Fire Department provided an escourt to the post. The group finished up day 3 with dinner at Shelbyville Post 70, but were faced with a long trip to the hotel in Bedford, Indiana.
Cmdr. Strong said, “We really appreciate out Legion Riders. The drive from Shelbyville to Bedford is a bit long, so Riders from Bedford Post 33 and Mitchell Post 250 didn’t want us to make the trip alone. With these Legion Riders leading the way, our traveling team arrived safe and sound.”
First stop of the fourth and final day brought the traveling party to Mitchell Post 250, where the Mitchell Legion family rolled out the red carpet for the National Commander.
“I have to tell you, this is the first place I have visited where an actual red carpet was rolled out for me. That was absolutely wonderful”, said Cmdr Reistad.
From there, it was off to Newburgh Post 44 and then the trip finished up at Worthington Post 106.
Cmdr. Strong said, “It was a long four days and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Being able to see each post’s relations with their surrounding community really gives you the full impact of what The American Legion is doing in our state and across the nation. That is why our organization has been around for 100 years and building on these relationships and recruiting new members will secure The American Legion for another 100 years”.
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