Editor’s note — The following story was submitted by Saylor Priest, a senior at Fairfield High School in Leesburg:
It is important that the American Legion Auxiliary has been put into place to honor those who have served, will serve, and are currently serving. As a proud granddaughter and daughter of veterans and American Legion members, I would like to apply for the Children of Warriors National Presidents’ Scholarship.
Within my family, the American Legion is extremely pertinent and has impacted the very foundation of my family. Three of my direct relatives have served and turned their efforts toward their respective American Legion to provide services and other volunteer work.
Men and women seek the American Legion, and it is there with an outstretched hand to welcome them in. The American Legion has lent a helping hand to veterans and their families all over the country with forms of volunteerism, labor and donations, and has been the rock for so many. The American Legion and its advocacy for veterans and their families have truly struck a chord with me.
My family has a long history of service to the United States, both military and American Legion affiliations. My maternal grandfather, Robert E. Conover, was a proud member of the Wilmington Legion Post 49 for nearly 50 years until 2013 at the time of his death. Throughout his life, but more specifically later in life, he contributed a portion of every day to volunteering. His commitment to the Auxiliary State Patrol is indicative of his character and his sense of loyalty to his state and country.
In Wilmington, my grandfather served as the treasurer during his membership with Post 49, which shows his overwhelming commitment to service and helping others. He was not only an active member of his community, but a pillar that ensured safety and well-being for all. Not only did he commit many hours to the Auxiliary State Highway Patrol and the Clinton Memorial Hospital, but he worked closely with the Wilmington Legion Post and was a dedicated member.
My paternal grandfather, Richard W. Priest, served in the Marine Corps during World War II in San Diego, California. When he returned, American Legion Post 568 in Leesburg designated an area for a new post of which my grandfather was a charter member. Within this organization he was extremely active until his death at age 46.
My father, Forrest L. Priest, was a proud member of the Leesburg Post 568 for 30 years. My father served during the Vietnam War within the Navy aboard the USS Puget Sound Destroyer Tinder out of Newport, Rhode Island. My father was president of the local Jaycees and received numerous awards for his volunteerism from the state of Ohio.
Recently, my father and family built a monument to serve as a remembrance of the history of the American WCTU movement. His work allows for the recognition of those who have served and specifically recognizing World War II and the Vietnam War with a special emphasis on those who were killed in action in service to our country. This monument reminds us of the past and provides our citizens with a historical marker. His dedication and service to his community extends beyond the work done in recent years to his service in the Vietnam War. He truly is the definition of an American veteran, and his actions and volunteer work show his unwavering character.
In both my father’s and grandfathers’ duties, the American Legion was at the core. The American Legion means a commitment to its country and volunteer services. Their ongoing commitment to serve America was evident in their duty served to the U.S. Navy, Boy Scouts of America and the Auxiliary Ohio State Patrol. These men went above and beyond the call of duty, and that is why the American Legion is so important. It is a safe space for so many, a place where they can find peace, comradery and health. Their passion for serving their country extended beyond their military duties.My father and grandfathers are and were outstanding citizens and have always gone above and beyond their daily duties to help others. They have contributed in an outstanding way, similar to that of the American Legion. By sponsoring students and their families, education blossoms.
Continuing education is a great first step to a wholesome career and begins the process of paying it forward. When the American Legion or other organizations contribute to a student’s education, they are in turn providing support for the veterans and their families. Through scholarships or other similar funding, students are able to see the depth of the organization and the extreme love for the country that the American Legion possesses. Without its support for education, many students would not be able to obtain higher education or receive further schooling. By sponsoring these at-risk students and allowing for educated generations to come, the American Legion is providing sustenance for the veterans and the community at its heart.
It is important the American Legion helps to care for the health and well-being of veterans, military and their families because it allows veterans and others affected by their service to function and to be successful. The American Legion allows for old history to be reflected on and allows the stories of those who have served to be told. It has stood the test of time and will be an inspiring organization for years to come. Generations will discover the truly enriching past of their relatives, and learn something new about their loved ones.
The American Legion’s contribution to veterans and their families is made possible through volunteer work and donations and has truly impacted my community. Without the work of the legion in my community and communities all over the country, veterans would not have the outlets necessary to have help in a global landscape. The difficulties of being a veteran are tremendous, and being a member of the American Legion helps to ease some of the issues.
The positive impact of the American Legion on my community and world has impacted so many people and allowed them to move forward.