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Ridin' & Glidin'
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Not really sure where this should be posted since {salute( it covers so many interests.

March 22, 2006


Dear American Legion Riders:

Subject: The Importance of The American Legacy Run, August 18-22, 2006

On the morning of September 11, 2001, then-National Commander Richard J. Santos and I were on Capitol Hill, preparing to offer testimony on veterans’ issues to a joint session of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees.

Suddenly, in a scene of great chaos and confusion, security guards and Capitol police hurriedly evacuated our American Legion delegations from the Capitol Building and various congressional office buildings, along with members of Congress and hundreds of congressional staffers. Within minutes, we learned that at least two hijacked commercial airliners had been flown directly into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, and that one plane had been driven into the Pentagon. I could see the smoke from my position. America was under attack.

Commander Santos made several important and far-reaching decisions that morning. He resolved that The American Legion would immediately extend its long tradition of support to the families of the men and women who died that day in the Pentagon. However, he instinctively knew that this new worldwide struggle against tyranny would not end that day, but would continue, perhaps for years, to cruelly burden the families of the men and women who serve America so selflessly. Within weeks, the American Legacy Scholarship was born, with a vow from The American Legion that the children of service members who died on active duty that fateful September morning and afterwards would have the opportunity for a college education.

Today, nearly five years later, we know that as an unfortunate consequence of Operation Iraqi Freedom and America’s war on terror, many children of our active-duty military personnel are now members of single-parent families. In many cases, this also means their chances to attend college have greatly diminished. Children of military personnel killed on active duty are entitled to receive money toward a college education, but it’s not enough.

The survivor benefit for these children is currently $36,135 to be used for a college education. In today’s dollars, this benefit will pay little more than half of what a college education costs in the most affordable schools. What’s worse, the most conservative estimate is that costs will increase by 5 percent per year, meaning that in 16 years, the most affordable college education will be $105,800. Military survivor benefits will simply not cover these dramatic increases.

I ask for your involvement and the support to raise money, with me, for the American Legacy Scholarship Fund. I want to make The American Legion’s vision of the possibility of a college education for these children a reality.

To that end, I will lead a delegation of motorcyclists spearheaded by a core group of American Legion Riders as I travel across the country to Salt Lake City, Utah, the site of the 88th National Convention of The American Legion. I will leave from the National Headquarters on August 18, 2006, and I will travel with the Riders for five days across the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, until our final arrival together in Salt Lake City at noon on August 22, 2006. All motorcyclists, not just veterans and Riders, are invited to ride with us on this important mission.

I encourage the American Legion Riders organizations within each state across America to raise money for The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund through the spring and summer of 2006, and donate the funds in memory of your fallen comrades of every conflict. I will collect these funds by mail and in person until my very last hours as your Commander. Complete details, information on special Legacy Fundraising Kits, and registration information are on the new website www.americanlegacyrun.org, which will begin to run on March 30, 2006.

Please share this open letter with every veteran and all who share our love and respect for those who have, or are still, defending our own families and freedoms. Many of you, like me, have attended the funerals of our fallen heroes in the spirit of respect and to protect their families and friends from those who would use their pain to further their own agendas. I admire you for that, and I encourage you all now to ride again for the children of those who have given their lives in the defense of freedom. Their very future may depend on us.

God bless you, and thank you all for what you do for America and the Legion Family.


National Commander
The American Legion
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