On May 30, The American Legion sponsored No. 48 IndyCar will race around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indy 500. The car will be driven by 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan. The car has already appeared in several 2021 NTT IndyCar Series races, driven by seven-time NASCAR CUP Series Champion Jimmie Johnson and Kanaan.
“Whether it’s ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ – the Indy 500 – or another NTT IndyCar race, the Number 48 car will not only be racing for The American Legion, but for the all the veterans, families and young people who benefit from our programs and service,” said American Legion National Commander James W. “Bill” Oxford in his opening remarks to the National Executive Committee for its virtual Spring Meetings. “They will be racing for all of the posts that stood up while society shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The American Legion stepped up during the global pandemic through blood drives, virtual job fairs, Buddy Checks, vaccination sites, food donations and more. To see how The American Legion responded, the story is told and illustrated in a photo-filled, 84-page COVID Operations bookazine now available from Emblem Sales or by calling (888) 453-4466.
“We may not yet be in the final lap of the race to end this horrible pandemic,” Oxford said. “We may still have a few more pit stops on the way. But our engines are strong. The history of America’s response to COVID-19 is still being written. Even so, I’m convinced that in the end – The American Legion – and perhaps even Car Number 48 – will be speeding under a checkered flag and gather with other heroes in the winner circle.”
The NEC gathered last October virtually for its annual Fall Meetings and passed Resolution No. 22: Addressing the Forever War. “You called for America to take a new direction in the Global War on Terrorism,” Oxford said. “We believe in a Forever GI Bill, but not a Forever War. The American Legion will always support our country’s right to defend itself, but we also believe it’s time to start bringing our troops home from these endless wars.”
The resolution states that “Our servicemembers accomplished their original objectives in Afghanistan long ago at great cost …”
As servicemembers come home from the global war on terrorism, Oxford stressed that it’s vital for Congress and the White House to make sure the health issues of America’s military men and women are addressed. “It’s time for Congress to pass the Toxic Exposure in the American Military Act. The American Legion fought tirelessly over decades for our Vietnam veterans to receive the benefits that many have died waiting to receive. We must fight just as hard for our current generation of heroes.”
The 102nd National Convention in Phoenix, Aug. 27-Sept. 2, is currently scheduled to occur in person with safety measures in place. Oxford shared that he is vaccinated and encourages everyone to do the same.
“I believe we will be in for a true celebration when we gather at our national youth programs this summer and meet in Phoenix for our National Convention. But we need to be smart and safe about it.”
While not everyone has been infected with COVID-19, Oxford said a recent survey revealed that 61 percent of American adults reported a weight-gain because of the pandemic. “Fortunately, The American Legion has a solution for this weight gain – second annual 100 Miles for Hope,” he said. “If you haven’t registered for the 100 Miles for Hope please do so. Besides getting in shape, we should remember its true purpose – which is to support our Veterans & Children Foundation.”
Visit legion.org/100miles for registration and donation information.
The American Legion’s Veterans & Children Foundation provides temporary financial assistance to eligible active-duty servicemembers and American Legion members with children in the home. It also supports more than 2,500 accredited American Legion service officers who provide free assistance to veterans and their families.