Presidents Installation Speech
Des Moines, IA
First, I would like to say Thank you, to everyone that has been a part of installation this morning. Ann Crawford for doing a great job this morning and for making my Beautiful Banner. Linda Sue Mullen for the beautiful prayer. Sgt at Arms Darla Davidson and Asst Sgt at Arms Michele Long. My installation pages Veronica Daniel and JoAnn Klein.
Good Morning. I am so excited to be here today and to be starting what I hope will be a year of Celebrations. We have a lot to Celebrate this year, Nicole being our new National President, the Auxiliary’s 100th Birthday Nov 10th, Girls State’s 75th session, Our Centennial Gala and Junior Camp will hold the 35th year of camp. WOW!!! I hope you all are ready for this exciting year. I am looking forward to working with the Department Commander, Department SAL detachment Commander Mike Monserud and the Junior Auxiliary President. The Legion is voting today on their new commander and we will have the Junior Convention at the end of camp where the juniors will elect their new President.
My theme this year is 100 years of Service Not Self. I chose this part of our mission statement because it signifies why I am a proud member of this great organization. Our mission statement states In the spirit of Service, Not Self, the mission of the American Legion Auxiliary is to support The American Legion and to honor the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of our veterans, military, and their families, both at home and abroad. For God and Country, we advocate for veterans, educate our citizens, mentor youth, and promote patriotism, good citizenship, peace and security.
I hope that all members read this often. It is a great reminder of what we are all here for, to serve our Veterans, their families and our communities. I am proud to be a part of the American Legion Family. I am proud of my dad who served in the Army and made me eligible to be a part of this family. I wish he could be here today to be a part of this celebration. He always told me how proud he was of the work I was doing with the Auxiliary. He knew somehow that I would be here today as your new Department President. He always told me that. I dedicate this year to him. I know he is here today and is smiling down on me. I have his legion cap up here with me and will carry it with me this year.
My symbol is the Angel. We have Angels here among us and those that have gone before us. Angels are a symbol of peace and love. Something that our members excel at. We need to continue to show that to each other and our Veterans.
I would like to Thank some very special people in my life. My mentor Martha Travis, I have learned so much from you. You got me started on this journey in the Auxiliary and have continued to support me through this journey. You are my Auxiliary mom, my friend and a great example of what a mentor should be. Thank You! Lillian McGivern you have been a great mentor and supporter. You are and inspiration to me. Thank you for showing me how to be a good leader and mentor. Sherri McLaughlin, her love for this organization was amazing. Her love for the Girls State program along with Wendy Riggle, inspired me. Because of them I have had some of the best moments of my life being a Girls State counselor. To my unit in Shellsburg for all your support. You are the best! My ladies from Benton County. You are a busy group of ladies and I am proud to be a part of the Benton County Auxiliary. The Third District. You have all taught me so much and have also been wonderful Mentors to me. Would all members of my Unit, Benton County and the 3rd District please stand to be recognized?
Now the Past Department Presidents, thank you for supporting me and encouraging me. You have taught me so much and helped me get ready for this year. It has meant the world to me. Mary and Michele, you have been such wonderful friends to me. Girls State and conventions would not be the same without you both. And to all my Legion family, I so grateful to be a part of this awesome family. You have the biggest hearts and amaze me every day with your kindness and your desire to help others.
Now for my family, thank you for understanding my love for this organization. For understanding when I can’t be there because I am at a meeting or function for our Veterans. You are always telling me how proud you are of me. I love you all so very much and I appreciate you all more than you will ever know.
Can the Sgt of Arms and her Assistant please escort my family to the stage?
Introduce the family and let them speak.
Can the Sgt of Arms and her assistant please escort my family back to their seats?
Play American Soldier
My projects this year are Junior Camp, Girls State and the VA facilities. For Junior Camp I ask that you send donation to support the program and keep it going well into the future. For Girls State a new laptop and printer. At the VA facilities I will be choosing a special project to help our Veteran’s stay be a little more enjoyable and comfortable. I am working with our Representatives at these facilities on this project.
I am sure you all noticed the handouts and items on your chairs when you came in. My last project this year is to bring more awareness to Suicide prevention with our Veterans. I have a lifelong friend whose son took his own life and he was serving with the Iowa National Guard. I also have a cousin who was serving in the Army when she committed suicide. It is a subject that is hard for most to understand and talk about, but we must get help for those service members. We need to start recognizing some of the symptoms and get them to someone that can help them. The information you have has a phone number they can call for help. The VA have also provided some gun locks. If you would like one, please let me know. A national VA report shows the total is 20.6 suicides every day. Of those, 16.8 were veterans and 3.8 were active duty servicemembers, guardsmen and reservists. That amounts to 6,132 veterans and 1,387 servicemembers who died by suicide in one year. We can help get the information out there and raise awareness.
When I was at National last year, I heard Matt Williams sing.
After returning from his third and final deployment in 2010 as a Staff Sergeant in the US Army, Matt Williams discovered another battle waiting for him here at home. PTSD and depression loomed very near to Matt, as he had been wounded - and two of his best friends were killed - by an IED attack during his last tour in Afghanistan. Things only seemed to intensify when Matt's father passed just three weeks after he arrived back home in Alabama. Matt desperately sought an outlet where he could direct his emotion, and he turned back to his roots: MUSIC. He said,
“My military service has influenced my music more than words can even express. My music is more, instead of trying to be fun all the time, my music is more expressive of what really happened in my life.”
“So, I wrote a song and it spoke about my experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said, referring to “Carry On.”
“What it basically says is the physical body of a veteran, of a soldier when they’ve been killed in action — that’s gone. But the memory of them will always be there. Their legacy will always be there.”
“It’s not about me. It’s about carrying on the memory of those who sacrificed to give us the freedoms that we have today,” he said.
The proceeds from the sales of “Carry On” are going to benefit the PBS Veterans Engagement Program.
I have chosen Carry On as one of my songs this year.
PLAY CARRY ON
Membership is important to keep our organization strong well into the future. Our membership team this year is Judy Ring, Jammie Phillips and Alida Kolthoff.
Membership Team are you ready?
In closing I would like to say Thank you for having confidence in me. I will do my best to represent the Auxiliary with a positive and uplifting attitude this year. Keep that Service not Self attitude as we go into this 100th year. Let’s have fun this year and show our support to Nicole for a successful year also. We are very proud of you Nicole and we can’t wait to hear all about your adventures this year.
Thank you and God Bless our Veterans.
Mary, I will now return the gavel so you can close your Department Convention. It has been wonderful serving with you this year. You have been an outstanding example this year for me. Thank you!