The American Legion Department of Arizona is preparing to release its second documentary covering stories of Arizonans who served with distinction in war.
The first documentary, “Arizona Heroes of World War I” – first released in 2017 – consisted of 15 chapters highlighting individual Arizona men and women who served – and sometimes died – during the war. Its ultimate goal was to both promote the department and The American Legion as a whole, and to mark the Legion’s centennial.
The new documentary, “Heroes of The American Legion,” features stories from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. According to filmmaker Thomas Perry, a Sons of The American Legion member at Squadron 66 in Green Valley, the goal with this documentary as with the first one is “to honor and remember Arizona heroic and courageous veterans.” The format is the same – short chapters that can be played all at once or separately, with Legion promotional tags and PSAs. Social media played a role in getting the message out; Perry points out that “segments were posted on Facebook over 235,000 times in the last year, with over 55 percent viewership. We will continue our marketing and branding campaign with our new film. We anticipate the same, if not a better, response.”
Department of Arizona Adjutant Angel Juarez states, “We continue with excitement for our historical film projects. The history of the men and women of Arizona who answered our country’s call for service is important. Our heroes highlighted in these stories are part of the larger story of the United States of America.”
Steve Aguirre – who when the first documentary began development was department membership director and has since served as 2018-2019 department commander – comments, “We had no idea when we started that the results would far exceed our expectations …. The documentaries have brought attention to the department, expanded our reach, and exposed Legion ideas to civilians and veterans across the state.”
“Heroes of the American Legion” had its premiere at the department convention in June, where Perry says “it was received very well by all in attendance.” The team is beginning work on the third documentary, to center on the desert campaigns of Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. That is set to debut at the 2020 department convention. To see both films in their entirety, or view the stand-alone segments, visit www.heroesoftheamericanlegion.com.
As in 2018, the 101st American Legion National Convention will feature a centennial film festival, and episodes from “Heroes of The American Legion” are on the schedule. This year’s festival will be held Monday, Aug. 26, in Rooms 126 and 127, Level 1 of the Indiana Convention Center from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The planned schedule (subject to change) includes the Legion’s centennial documentary “To Strengthen a Nation” and runs as follows:
9 a.m. American Legion Preamble, as sung by the West Point Chapel Choir circa 1950s
9:05 a.m. Short film “Meuse-Argonne Offensive” + trailer for “Over There: Hoosier Heroes of the Great War,” plus discussion with filmmakers
9:45 a.m. “To Strengthen a Nation/Prelude”
10 a.m. “Heroes of WW2: The European Campaign
11 a.m. “To Strengthen a Nation/Episode 1: Formation of The American Legion”
11:10 a.m. 1980s-1990s Agent Orange documentary “A Time for Action”
11:40 a.m. “To Strengthen a Nation/Episode 2: Mutual Helpfulness”
Noon “Heroes of The American Legion” episodes
12:30 p.m. 1950s film of American Legion Baseball Pan-American tour “Ambassadors at Bat”
1 p.m. Short film “Sixth of June,” plus discussion with filmmaker/s
1:45 p.m. “To Strengthen a Nation/Episode 3: Economic Opportunity”
2 p.m. Selections from LegionTV, and other surprises
Attendees are welcome to arrive and depart as needed or convenient.