Hillsdale Daily News: Legion Celebrates Storied Past, Looks to Future
June 19, 2019
Tim In The News
When Commander Steve Striggow hands over leadership of the American Legion’s Department of commander this year, it will in many ways be the end of an era.
Striggow’s photograph, along with those of all 99 previous state commanders, hangs on the wall of the state American Legion office. His will be the last black and white photograph.
After this year, photographs of incoming state commanders will be taken in color, a change symbolic of the organization entering its second century.
“We’re striving forward to build a future,” said Striggow, who was one of several high-profile guests at this weekend’s centennial celebration at Hillsdale’s Leighr A. Wright Michigan Post 53.
Striggow talked about the Legion’s efforts to raise money to build a Fisher House, a “home away from home” where families of veterans and military personnel can stay free of charge while loved ones are receiving treatåment. Currently two Fisher Houses are planned for the state — one in Ann Arbor and another in Detroit.
The Michigan Department is selling commemorative coins with all proceeds going towards the project, available through their website.
U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg was also in attendance Friday, and detailed a 2008 incident in which two American soldiers who sacrificed themselves to save their barrack-mates, a heroic tale first recounted in a speech made to Gold Star families by former Marine Corps General John Kelly. Walberg compared the courage and devotion of the two Marine infantrymen to the virtues espoused by American Legion members on the homefront.
“That’s the kind of people that the American Legion encourages to be involved,” Walberg said. “That’s the kind of effort that you encourage for your comrades and your comrades to come.”
The U.S. Congressman presented the American Legion with an American flag that was flown over the capitol and a commendation.
“I congratulate you on 100 years of American Legion work, and I wish you great success as you carry on and pull more people into the battle as well.”
State Rep. Eric Leutheuser presented the post with a framed resolution on behalf of the state of Michigan and an American flag which flew over the state capitol on the day the resolution was passed.
“You need flags to fly, but I also thought you should have a flag to keep,” Leutheuser said of the gift.
Hillsdale Post Commander Sid B. Michael praised the elected representatives for their work in representing Legionnaires, and thanked Walberg for co-sponsoring a House of Representatives version of the LEGION Act, legislation that would allow expand eligibility for membership in the American Legion to veterans who served honorably but whose service does not fall under a recognized eligibility period.
Currently, eligibility is restricted to those who served at least one day of federal active duty service during any approved eligibility period determined by U.S. Congress.
The LEGION Act passed the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent on June 11. It will soon head to the House of Representatives for a vote.
This article originally appeared in the June 19 edition of the Hillsdale Daily News.