American Legion National Commander Daniel Dellinger has been traveling across the country visiting American Legion posts and talking about issues affecting them.
That tour brought Dellinger, who is from Vienna, Va., and others to the Captain Edgar Dale American Legion Post 81 in El Dorado on Monday.
“I am here to thank you for what you do for service men and women, veterans and what you do in your community,” he said. “You are the fabric of America.”
He went on to tell of a time he appeared before Congress and one congressman who was reading his paperwork and not really paying attention. Then Dellinger mentioned the 2.4 million members of the American Legion family and the congressman began paying attention to the rest of the speech.
“I do believe politics has replaced patriotism in our country,” Dellinger continued. “They’re not listening to what people want.”
Later in his travels Dellinger was near the Grand Canyon during a normally busy time in October. Because of the government shutdown the gates were locked. This also impacted area motels, hotels and restaurants that had only a few cars in the lots.
“What will they do the rest of the year?” he asked. “Do people in Washington care if they (visitors) are there? Apparently not.”
He said the major news media is concerned with what is going on in the beltway of Washingon, D.C., but they don’t know what is going on in the rest of the country.
Dellinger also said he traveled back to Washington, D.C., for a press conference at the World War II Memorial.
While he was there a WWII veteran was there who wanted to see his memorial, but it was barricaded off. He said a couple of the veterans got some wire cutters from the media there and opened it for him.
“That’s the fabric of America,” he said. “That’s what we do.
“What I saw in Congress is what propels me to want to get 100 percent membership. Everybody knows a veteran.”
He said if they didn’t want to ask the veteran to join the Legion, then to give their name to a Legion member who would ask.
There are 22 1/2 million eligible veterans in the country and the American Legion has 2.4 million members.
He encouraged them to work to get more members because the greater their number the more impact they can have in Washington.
“When I stood in front of Congress I had a whole set of figures because they don’t know who we are,” Dellinger said.
Page 2 of 2 - Those numbers included helping more than 220,000 young men and women; raising $22 million for children and youth; and volunteering 2.8 million hours at VA hospitals.
The reason he couldn’t present those was that only represented numbers from 57 percent of the posts.
“Kansas last year reported 67 percent,” he said and asked for them to report all of their efforts.
“I’m asking for help so we can tell Congress because what we do is what America is about.”
Also during his stop, Dellinger announced his project for the year, the National Emergency Fund.
This fund gives away grants in disaster areas and he is trying to raise $1 million for it.
“We need to be prepared as our members come to us and ask for help,” he said.
Following the presentation and introductions, those in attendance enjoyed a dinner. While he was there Dellinger also was presented with a Post hat and t-shirt, a challenge coin from the American Legion Riders who had given him an escort into town and a cup from the Auxiliary with an M&M on it, which they said was for “more membership.”