On Tuesday afternoon, National Legion Commander Bill Oxford visited and spoke with members of the community about the future of the Legion, and how to appeal to younger audiences.
"We have the ability to impact the future of this county as those young people become future leaders. We cannot stop, we cannot slow down, we cannot reduce the effort we put into our youth programs."
Oxford noted the formation of the Veterans Children in Welfare Foundation.
Among the audience members were former servicemen and women, and local community leaders.
Oxford began his military career in the 1960s, and joined the Legion in the 1970s, first joining for Saturday night dancing.
"I think younger folks now—as they come off active duty— are still worried about making a living and raising a family," said Oxford. "As they grow older, I know they still feel the same sense of service and responsibility that we did when we were young."
"Lots of our veterans today are middle-aged or older, but as these young people settle into the routine, I think they will eventually realize the value of the Legion."
Along his trip across the states, Oxford has also visited Adams, Waseca, Albert Lea, Wells, Redwood Falls, Gaylord, Mankato, and New Prague. He has seen Indianapolis twice, Washington twice, and has been inside the oval office with President Trump once, when Trump signed the POW/MIA Flag Act.
"When we visit each department— and this is the 26th we've been to— each department has a different character, a different atmosphere. They're all different, but they're all the same. We've seen great posts across the country as we travel and have the opportunity to become friends."
Oxford has also gone overseas on this tour, first visiting Hawaii before taking off for Japan, Taiwan, and Australia before returning back to Hawai‘i.
"We look at the way we were treated in these foreign countries, it makes me realize the American Legion is just as valuable, just relevant and just as important as we were 100 years ago. That's who we are and what we do."
"Every veteran needs to be part of a veteran's service organization. It provides them an opportunity to serve, and continue to serve. I think that's what brought us all together— that comradeship and fellowship."
The American Legion was founded on March 15th, 1919, and was chartered by Congress on September 16th, 1919. Currently, around 1.8 million Americans are members of a Legion post.