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At its March 13 general membership meeting Springfield Post 176 assembled to celebrate the 93rd birthday of The American Legion as well as to honor the Post's newest members with an initiation ceremony.
Prior to the start of these two events, 19 new applicants and two transfers were presented for membership to the Post. One of these new members happened to be an active duty service member, Rick West, the current Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON), and also the meeting’s guest speaker.
First Vice Commander, David Wallace, gave The American Legion 93rd birthday speech, reminding everyone why The American Legion founders gathered in Paris. “They did not form the organization out of self-interest. They did it to serve their comrades, their communities and their country.”
The new members were offered in front of the audience by Sergeant-at-Arms, Floyd Cline, and in this ceremony’s tradition, Post Commander, Dick Vatter, along with the Post Adjutant, presented each new member an American Flag, the emblem of freedom, a flag etiquette book, a certificate of initiation, and a Legion lapel pin, to be worn as a badge of democracy and a symbol of their devotion to further service.
After the ceremony the MCPON stepped in front of the podium to deliver his speech. He began stating, in jest, that he thought everyone in the hall was here to celebrate his birthday. In all irony of the evening’s events, he actually shares his birthday, March 15, with The American Legion.
“I receive 40-50 requests a week to come and speak at various events,” said the MCPON, “but, when I saw the invitation to take part in celebrating the 93rd birthday of The American Legion, there was no way I was going to miss this!” That statement was one that truly stood out from his speech.
As he spoke to the packed banquet hall of Legionnaires, Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion, everyone present could feel the admiration and respect their newest Legionnaire had in his voice as it pertained to The American Legion.
He spoke about growing up in Georgia, where he also played American Legion baseball, and then briefly discussed some of the highlights in his storied military career.
Commander Vatter and Vice Commander Wallace presented the MCPON with one final gift, a Post 176 t-shirt, as the membership meeting came to a close.
For more information about American Legion Post 176 please call 703-440-0335.