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The following correspondence regards the American Legion extending membership to the Shrub. I found that membership criteria is very loosely interpreted when it comes to the fortunate sons of the rich and famous that were granted safe haven in the National Guard during the Vietnam War. I resigned my membership in protest.
[From: Tom to firstname.lastname@example.org Cc: email@example.com]
RE: Bush Membership, ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS, DATES
Thank you very much for promptly responding to my inquiry. Also, thank you for responding with forthright answers.
First, let me address your observation that I have not paid my 2001 dues. You are correct. I had come to question whether the American Legion was truly "... a patriotic , mutual-help, war-time veterans organization." I needed time and help in sorting through events and incidents contrary to my beliefs about the Legion.
I believed "war-time veterans" were individuals who served on active duty in the armed forces and merchant marine of the United States during periods of armed conflict. I believed this service was such that they were at risk in service of the United States. With these definitions in mind, the American Legion was a collection of patriots - individuals who took risks to preserve our democratic-republic and the Constitution of the United States. This set Legion members apart from others in society. Those unwilling or unable to take risk in furthering national interests were excluded from membership.
During the last primary campaign, I was dismayed to see a true American Patriot, John McCain, being trashed by his opponent's campaign. The opponent also spoke to American Legionnaires while wearing what appeared to be a Legion cap and emblem. The opponent's claim to veteran status was service in the Texas Air National Guard flying the obsolete F-102.
Recently, I was told that membership in the American Legion was open to draft dodgers fortunate enough to have bought their way into the National Guard during the Vietnam War. I simply could not believe this to be true. This prompted me to access the American Legion web site.
What I read on the web site added more confusion. No where on any application form did it list Air National Guard, Army National Guard, or reserve forces as qualifying organizations. No where did it specify that active duty for training was qualifying. However, I was cognizant that when called to federal service from these units such as during the Korean War, Gulf War, or the World Wars, the individual would meet criteria for membership.
Yet, in a press release on the web site titled "American Legion National Commander: Military, veterans put Bush in White House", it says '"I congratulate both Governor Bush and Vice President Gore, both of whom are Legionnaires, on their campaigns," Smith said.' Based upon this statement by Commander Smith, it appeared that Legion membership had, in fact, been opened to National Guard draft dodgers. Before I resigned my membership, I had to find out for sure. So, I wrote my inquiry.
According to your response, 'All Reserve components send their service members to "Basic Training" using Title 10, Subsection 672/12301 orders.' You indicate that active duty under this section for training during the Vietnam War coupled with an honorable discharge qualifies an individual for membership. Therefore, virtually every Vietnam era draft dodger, fortunate
enough to have the influence to buy his way into the National Guard, qualifies for membership in the American Legion -- including Ohio National Guard veterans of the Kent State slaughter. Some patriots! This demeans Alvin York, Audey Murphy, Jimmy Stewart, and all other true patriots.
I, too, served in the National Guard during the Vietnam era - after twelve years of active duty in the Regular Army and the Air Force. I assure you, the National Guard recruits during this period were dodging the draft and risks of war. Congress had been assured the National Guard would not be called and was, therefore, a safe haven. Without prior service, you did not get into the National Guard without influence. Recruits I observed during this period consisted of professional athletes, lawyers, sons of politicians, Hollywood restaurant chefs, etc. These were persons seeking safe haven - not persons willing to risk bodily injury in support of their country - certainly not patriots.
Don't misunderstand me, I do not fault anyone for seeking a safe haven from Vietnam War service. However, I do not agree with extending to them the title, status and privileges of war- time veteran. I cannot support any organization that does so.
I am also dismayed that the American Legion appears to be shifting into partisan politics. (SEE Legislative Action Center)
Therefore, I am resigning my membership in the Legion. I will not be forwarding payment for the 2001 dues. I do this because, to do otherwise, would be supportive of extending patriot status to draft dodgers.
God bless America.
-TomALSO TODAY: "Every Vote Counts..." By RLR
NEXT: ALERT: SAY "THPHPHPHPH" TO BUSH!