This is the full text of Legion Post Commander Gary Steele’s 2013 Memorial Day address, words that say something about both U.S. holidays that honor those who served the United States in the military. Steele will speak again Monday in the 11 a.m. service at Anderson Tribute Center:
Thank you for joining us today to honor our veterans for their selfless service to America.
I call your attention to this POW/MIA empty chair.
A POW/MIA empty chair is placed at all official meetings of the American Legion, as a physical symbol of the thousands of American POW/MIAs still unaccounted for from all wars and conflicts involving the United States of America. This is a reminder for all of us to spare no effort to secure the release of any American prisoners from captivity, the repatriation of the remains of those who died bravely in defense of liberty, and a full accounting of those missing. Let us rededicate ourselves for this endeavor.
Let us remain silent for 15 seconds to honor all POWs, MIAs and the veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice, their lives, in defense of freedom.
Freedom is not free; it comes with great loss and sacrifice.
All of America’s veterans have placed our nation’s security before their own lives, creating a debt we can never fully repay. Our veterans represent the best of America. They deserve the best America can give them.
We owe them more than just a thank you on Memorial Day and Veterans Day. We need to serve them in their time of need.
Our veterans return home from foreign shores to find a nation deep in debt, and still in a recession. It is difficult for them to find jobs to support themselves and their family. Many are wounded physically and psychologically. They often find it difficult to receive the promised disability benefits, and give up trying.
How can we help our veterans?
Encourage them to never give up. Suggest they call Veteran Service Coordinator Les Logsdon and make an appointment. If they need a ride, take them to meet with Les.
Les is successful in helping veterans receive their disability benefits and other benefits.
There are other ways we can assist our veterans.
They need a full-time job with a good employer.
Some may need a ride to pick up prescriptions or buy groceries.
Others may need to have their lawn mowed or firewood cut, split and delivered.
Veterans living at the Veterans Home in The Dalles may enjoy a visit.
Veterans and widows of veterans on Hospice care may also enjoy a visit.
I would like to share a story about a homeless Navy veteran who called the American Legion Post 22 in Hood River for help. Rodger Schock picked him up at the hospital and brought him to the Post. Chef Albert Sansour prepared a delicious hot meal for him.
This veteran said he had not taken a shower for four days and needed some clean clothes. I had the privilege to take him to the Good Karma thrift shop. Owners Brent and Cherie gave him free shirts, pants and boots. At his request I took him to The Dalles and paid for a motel room from funds donated from the Legionnaires. He was grateful that we cared enough to help him.
How often do we have an opportunity to help others?
Let’s show our veterans that we really care.
The American Legion was established in 1916 to serve the veterans of World War I. The Legion helped create the Veterans Administration, and was the originator of the G.I. Bill of Rights.
We are veterans still serving America. Our number-one priority is to serve the veterans, their families and their community.
Who is willing to help with this great service?
God bless America, land of the free and home of the brave.