Friday, January 31, 2020

February is American Legion Americanism Month

By David Tanguay

Americanism, one of the Legion’s four pillars, is the love of America, loyalty to its ideals and institutions, allegiance to its flag, willingness to defend it against all enemies - foreign and domestic - and a desire to advance the blessings of liberty to future generations. The passage of Resolution No. 163 at the 1960 National Convention in Miami, Fla., established February as Americanism Month. During this annual observance, we should all reflect upon what it means to be an American and rededicate ourselves and our posts to taking action that will uphold the principle of “100 percent Americanism.”

The American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 in Windham supports the precepts of the Legion’s four
pillars. The Post has an Americanism Officer, David Horne, who annually coordinates and supports a variety of programs and projects that reflect the Americanism principals. The pillar is divided into youth programs, flag programs, support for veterans, and community outreach.

Under youth programs, the Post supports the annual Boys State program which meets each June at Thomas College and tutors high school juniors in the process of local and state government. The Post currently has funds to support four boys this year with scholarships. The Unit Auxiliary supports the same precepts for Girls State.  More to follow on subsequent articles for this year.

The Post annually selects a male and female student from the senior class at Windham High School for their leadership. The recipients receive a leadership “School” medallion, pin and certificate and is awarded a modest scholarship for use in their education.

Legion baseball, youth air rifle program and boy scout activities are also under the purview of the Americanism program and are supported by the Post. 

Each June 14th, Flag Day, the Post liaisons hold a Flag Retirement Ceremony with local Boy Scout Troop 805, Windham. The “Field-Allen” Legion baseball team carries the Post name and colors. 

Lastly, the Post collaborates with the WHS Jr. Cadets Corps under the leadership of Dan Wirtz to sponsor a youth air rifle training program. It is anticipated that follow-up training will be offered to scout groups and other individuals based on interest.

The Field-Allen Post also supports flag etiquette and training programs for various organizations and schools. If there is interest in these training opportunities, give the Post a call.

The American flag, the symbol of our great country, is key to the precepts of the Americanism Program. The Post goes to great lengths to recognize the American flag. In 2005 the Post undertook an Americanism program to place 100 US flags on the utility poles on the highways and byways of Windham. 

In May of this year, the Post will be undertaking that same goal for the 15th consecutive year. Now, a little more senior group of Post members will climb ladders and place Old Glory, one more time, on these poles around town.

There are also flag placements in the cemeteries. Windham has 31 recognized cemeteries in the borders of the town. Of those, 21 are known to have interned in them the remains of our fallen veterans.  Some are large areas such as Arlington in North Windham. Others are of moderate size such as Chase (Highland Cliff Rd) and Smith (lower River Road with many colonial era and Revolutionary War vets). Most are small, many out of the way, once family plots like the Elder cemetery on lower River Road, set back in the woods with one GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) marked veteran grave from the Civil War.

Each year, teams of local veterans honor their sacred duties to remember their fallen by placing a flag on every know veteran’s grave.

The same holds true in late fall, when, around Pearl Harbor Day, the Post and the community come out to place a simple wreath with a red-white-blue bow on each of the veteran’s graves, a tribute not unlike Wreaths Across America. The Field-Allen Post raises the funds needed during the summer months to purchase the wreaths and bow material. In late November, a Bow Party is held to make the bows and affix them to the wreaths for distribution.

Other programs that directly or indirectly support include blood drives and food drives. The American Legion, on a national level, supports more Red Cross blood drives than any other organization in the country.  The Legion Post does it part by hosting four events a year at the Windham Veterans Center.

The Post sponsors a very successful Vet Coffee Program held each Wednesday at the Windham Veterans Center from 9 a.m. to 11 am. This Vet Coffee is multi-facetted in that it provides an opportunity for local veterans to “drop-in” for a social experience with their peers. It also has a therapeutic element with many of our vets that gives them an opportunity to share experiences in a safe environment.

Additionally, the Post collects food items annually for the local food pantry over Memorial Day weekend and collects food items in support of the Portland VETCENTER food pantry for homeless veterans on a weekly basis at the WVA on Wednesday mornings from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

The Legion Family Poppy Program, an annual collection of donations is used specifically and exclusively for the support of veterans and their families and active duty service personnel and their families.  When you see that red flower being offered, consider that it is being offered in memory of a veteran and any donations will go 100% to the support of the veterans.

Each Year on Memorial Day the Field-Allen Post 148 coordinates and orchestrates the town of Windham’s Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony at the WHS.  The Post has been doing this for over 25 tears. It starts coordination in February to bring the tribute to our veterans together each year.
Want to be part of the team? Contact the Field-Allen Post Adjutant Dave Tanguay at 892-1306 or see any Post member.

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