Have we Forgotten Our Why?

By Mike Maxa

Are we in a permanent full-moon phase? The number of phone calls I have received these past few months is staggering on how the posts in the Department of Minnesota are conducting themselves.

Have we lost our way and forgotten how to conduct ourselves under the Preamble, and why we belong to The American Legion?

Last year on our website and social media, we defined a Preamble clause each month, for 10 months. I highly suggest we all review that document and understand what each of those clauses mean to us as Legionnaires, especially the key one about “comradeship and mutual helpfulness.”

So why have I sat down to write an article on the phone calls I and some of our officers have received?

We have some post commanders acting like dictators not listening to the membership of their posts. Finance officers are not providing financial reports at post meetings. Executive/housing committees are making major expenditures without telling membership or seeking their approval. Members are disrespecting the officers of the post, other members and staff.

Staff are disrespecting customers and the officers of the posts. There are reports of illicit and even illegal behavior and, finally, appointing post officers without the knowledge and approval of the members.

The general membership has the final vote and approval on all activities, expenditures and the constitution and bylaws of the post! We are transparent.

How are we going to resolve the problems that are happening in our posts? The post constitution and bylaws are the governing documents for the post and members.

If the post doesn’t have one, you need to develop one and the department can help. Post officers are elected by the membership, and they are to adhere to, the post, district, department and national constitution and bylaws, and the Officer’s Guide.

If and when committees are formed, again the post constitution and bylaws provide the rules on how committees will operate and conduct itself. All committees of the post are to provide reports, documents to the general membership during post meetings or when asked for by the membership and post leadership, and the documents are made available. No exceptions!

I feel some have forgotten why we belong to The American Legion and the good of The American Legion, and it’s not for the bars and restaurants. The business side is a decision made by the Post members to fund the good of The American Legion programs and the Four Pillars.

Again, the final says on the business of the post falls on the shoulders of the membership.

Now, your Post may have a housing committee, executive committee or whatever the post calls it, voted in by the membership, to oversee the day-to-day business operations. Committees report to the membership on the financials, issues and major expenditures needing approval from the members.

As you read this, are you starting to see a pattern? Membership and the constitution and bylaws.

We are all veterans, and we all have served to protect this great country of ours. We may not always agree and it’s OK to agree to disagree, but when the vote is cast and counted, we move forward.

After you have stated your position and whether you win or lose, we should be able to get along, respect each other and sit down to enjoy time and conversation with our fellow veterans.

Our country and our politicians are divided enough, and we cannot fall into similar trappings. Legionnaires are the positive influence in our communities, and we need to lead by example. As we conduct ourselves with dignity and respect for each other, I hope our positive actions would influence our politicians, community leaders, teachers, city councils, school boards and our children to do the same.

Respect, catch it!