The room echoed with the sound of women in friendly chatter. New to this group, my mother and I felt an immediate kinsmanship with the other women gathered here.
Half of the participants were dressed all in white – shirts and skirts, suits, or blouses and slacks – all white, but it was their demeanor rather than their dress which set them apart. These were the officers and past officers of the American Legion Auxiliary. I saw a bouquet of white carnations on a side table and smiled at the symmetry.
The meeting was called to order with the parading of the colors, prayer and song. Roberts Rules of Order was the structure of the business and of the meeting. Discussed, moved, seconded, voted on and carried were several items about expenditures, responsibilities, scholarships, and new officers for the coming year.
Then the four of us who were joining the American Legion Auxiliary were asked to come forward. Escorted to the front table, we were graciously led through the stages of the organization and received their symbols in the forms of the American flag, the poppy, and the membership lapel pin.
Together we repeated and affirmed our eligibility and commitment to join the American Legion Auxiliary. We may have stumbled on a few words like ‘inculcate’ and ‘autocracy’, but in our hearts we were moved by the unification of our beliefs with the other women standing beside and in front of us.
It was a solemn ceremony, but not daunting. We were escorted to our seats and welcomed again as full members.
Plans for Memorial Day and a fish fry were announced and then we segued to another moving ceremony – honoring those women who had died during the year. White carnations were passed from officer to officer as the names were read. I didn’t know these women, but they had been my sisters in the Auxiliary.
The American Legion Auxiliary is an organization of civilians who were wife, daughter, sister, grand or great-grand daughter and/or grand or great-grandmother of an American soldier who served during these times of war or conflict: WWI, WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, Desert Storm, Grenada, Lebanon, Panama, and the Persian Gulf (to the end of these current hostilities) as well as any woman who in her own right is eligible to join the American Legion.
The American Legion Auxiliary supports the American Legion and its programs for veterans and their families. It also sponsors students with scholarships and educates people in the responsibilities and concepts of being an active citizen in our Democracy.
As the meeting came to a close, I looked around at these women who volunteer their time and talent for their county and for the men and women who served in the American Armed Forces during our country’s darkest hours. I felt pride surge through me. I am a member of the American Legion Auxiliary and will be until the day my name is read while my unit’s officers pass a white carnation between them.
For more information, please email me and I would love to help you find an Auxiliary in your area.