‘A Republic, if you can keep it’

‘A Republic, if you can keep it’

Dear American Legion Family and Friends,

If you ever want to feel reassured about the future of our country, I highly recommend volunteering for an American Legion youth program.

The alumni list of our programs reads like a “who’s who” of people shaping America. It includes a former president, at least two vice presidents, senators, governors, supreme court justices, professional athletes, entertainment icons, military leaders and corporate CEOs.

After exiting the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin famously replied to a curious onlooker that the delegates drafted, “A Republic, if you can keep it!”

If you worry about our nation’s future, I recommend you watch the final round of The American Legion High School Oratorical Scholarship Program that occurred in Indianapolis April 24.

Emma Noble, a junior from Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, placed first and earned a $25,000 college scholarship. High school seniors Ashley Tuell and Jackson Boone finished second and third respectively. All have extensive knowledge of the Constitution, outstanding communication skills and extremely bright futures.

We also see thousands of other bright lights excel in Boys & Girls State, Junior Shooting Sports, American Legion Baseball, Junior ROTC and Legion-sponsored Scout troops.

Nearly every time I walk the halls of Congress or tour a military installation, one or more impressive leaders will mention to me about their experience as a participant in one of our great programs.

This is no coincidence. The young men and women who participate in our programs are the best that America offers. On top of proven skill, they have exhibited values such as patriotism, good citizenship and a solid work ethic.

Every mainstream newscast seems to focus on the many problems and challenges that our nation faces. Fair enough, but this is also a nation that endured the Civil War, Jim Crow, a Great Depression, two world wars, terrorism and massive natural disasters. Yet we continue to recover and prosper.

So, in response to Mr. Franklin, I believe we will keep this Republic, and that Emma, Ashley, Jackson and thousands of American Legion youth alumni will be a major reason why.

For God and Country,

Paul E. Dillard

National Commander