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The American Legion needs your help

on Tuesday, 19 June 2018. Posted in Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor:
The Fred H. Sexton American Legion Post 1 was established in 1919 as the first post in South Carolina. The post is named for a young 2nd Lieutenant named Fred Sexton who was killed in action during WWI. He was from Union, SC and died while on patrol cleaning out machine gun nests. He was highly decorated and a hero. We are proud to carry his name.
The American Legion was formed at the conclusion of “The Great War”-World War one. There were millions of soldiers coming home after a great victory. They were well aware of what the troops and their families went through during those most difficult of times. They wanted to maintain their bond and comradeship in an organized and purposeful manner. Thus was born the American Legion. Their primary goal was to establish a constitutional organization whose purpose was to serve veterans and their families who had served their country during wartime.
The American Legion is the largest wartime veterans’ organization in the world. Its size has allowed the Legion to influence Congress to enact legislation to benefit veterans. The Legion is responsible for the first G.I. Bill that gave veterans a chance to go to college with government support. I was one of those so blessed. They also were the driving force behind that newest G.I. Bill doing the same thing for today’s veterans from the conflicts in the Middle East and around the world.
Let’s not forget American Legion baseball. Legion baseball was started in 1925. Sixty-five percent of pro baseball players got their start playing Legion ball. Florence has been blessed with a great baseball program and the best coach in the country, Derick Urquhart. We also have a nationwide Boys/Girls State program to teach our future leaders about government operations. The Legion sponsors an annual Oratorical Competition where students learn and speak about the Constitution to earn scholarship money. We work with the local JrROTC programs and recognize their military and scholastic leaders with medals. These are just a few of the benefits of a strong American Legion.
Today we are in a different world. The old soldiers are fading away as Douglas MacArthur so eloquently cited in his farewell speech. Post 1 has 120 members and our average age is 70 years old. Therein is the problem. It is not just a Legion problem, it is happening to all organizations such as the VFW, Marine Corps League, Elks, Kiwanis, Honor Guards, Auxiliary units and, oh so many more.
The problem is obvious, but the solution is very complex and will take some sacrifice by all to preserve our organizations in the long term. We must focus on their accomplishments and what it will mean if they no longer can be a voice for those we represent. Quite simply, we need younger men and women to consider joining us. The Legion knows that you younger veterans are busy and you have other obligations, but again, do you want to see the Florence Legion go away? We need to build a membership with fresh ideas and goals to continue to be the voice for your fellow veterans. Your country needs you again.
Please come to a Legion meeting and see the issues we are facing, ask questions, make suggestions and then decide if you can be part of the solution. The Post 1 Auxiliary unit also meets at the same time and they are always looking for new women and men to help their programs supporting veterans. The Auxiliary consists of spouses of Legion eligible veterans. 
We meet on the second Tuesday of every month at 6:30 p.m. The post is at 3631 E. Palmetto street. 
Kenneth M. Curran- 
Post Commander
Fred H. Sexton 
American Legion Post 1

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