Tim Sproles - American Legion Dept. of Indiana
It’s a tradition that dates back to 1935. Each year, on Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday, February 12th, Legion Family members, and fellow veterans travel to Springfield, Illinois to honor one of our country’s greatest Presidents, Abraham Lincoln.
More than 30 Hoosier Legion Family members braved the winter weather this year and met up at the Department Headquarters to “convoy” to Springfield for the 84th Annual National American Legion Pilgrimage to the Tomb of Abraham Lincoln.
“The roads were kind of rough heading to Springfield,” said Department of Indiana Cmdr., Marty Dzieglowicz. “We had freezing rain and sleet leading up to the time we left headquarters, but we took it slow and made it here safe and sound. The Lincoln Pilgrimage is just one of those events you can’t miss.”
The weekend is filled with events to not only honor our 16th President but to also recognize Legionnaires for their hard work. Four Hoosier Legionnaires took home membership awards from the Department of Illinois’ Membership Challenge.
“We took the District Commander and Membership Chairman from the top two Districts after our membership card turn-in at the Department Mid-Winter Conference.”, said Department of Indiana Membership Chairman Ron Byrley.
Tenth District Department Cmdr., Laurie Bowman, and her Membership Chairman, Niles Gammon took home first place honors. Sixth District Commander, Richard Culp and his Membership Chairman, John Klepfer placed second.
Each of the winners received a commemorative Lincoln Pilgrimage Membership Challenge jacket from the Department of Illinois.
Byrley said, “All of our Legionnaires, from the blue-cappers to the district leaders have put in the hard work to make this a successful membership year. We still have work to do, but we are on the right track to meet both Department and National goals.”
On Monday morning, Legionnaires from 6 states met at Abraham Lincoln’s tomb located in Oak Ridge Cemetery for a special wreath-laying ceremony.
Special guests included The American Legion National Commander Denise Rohan, the Illinois Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Richard J. Hayes Jr., Sons of The American Legion National Commander Danny Smith, and Springfield, Ill. Mayor Jim Langfelder.
Cmdr. Rohan said, “There is yet another solemn legacy left by President Lincoln that means everything to The American Legion. It was the famous promise from his second inaugural address “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan.” It is a promise that The American Legion delivers every day.”
Cmdr. Dzieglowicz said, “Being able to come here to honor President Lincoln alongside our National leadership will always be a great honor to this department. This is just an outstanding event that highlights the hard work of the Department of Illinois. We look forward to this, and we will see you next year.”
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