2014 Banquet

American Legion News

Register now for convention career fair

Veteran-friendly companies, agencies and organizations are coming to the Charlotte Convention Center on Aug. 26 for a Hiring Our Heroes career fair during the The American Legion's 96th National Convention. Nearly 90 employers will be in attendance from 10:15 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the venue's Center Ballroom, accepting résumés from attendees and even interviewing them and extending job offers.

Veterans, servicemembers and spouses are invited to register now for the free event. The fair is designed to connect attendees with employers who are looking specifically for candidates with military backgrounds.

The career fair is sponsored by the Legion and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The national convention is also home to The American Legion’s Employment and Empowerment Summit, a two-day free event that offers job skills workshops to veterans, one-on-one résumé writing guidance and opportunities to interact with representatives and hiring officials.

Also free of charge, the Legion’s Employment and Empowerment Summit is Aug. 25-26 in the Charlotte Convention Center. The summit will focus specifically on the needs of transitioning servicemembers. Attendees can register beforehand through Legion.org.

Free breakfast and lunch will be provided at both events. Employers such as Northrop Grumman, Citi, UPS, CSX Corporation, Bank of America, Time Warner Cable, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Office of Personnel Management will participate. A free résumé writing workshop will be provided to attendees before the career fair on Aug. 26 which will give one-on-one assistance in refining and writing a résumé that will stand out.

Additionally, The American Legion’s Veterans Employment & Education Commission will host a Networking Reception & Dinner for veterans, active-duty transitioning servicemembers and their spouses. Representatives from corporations and federal agencies also will attend the event, which is from 5 to 7 p.m. , Aug. 25, in the Westin Charlotte Hotel.

Last year, more than 600 veterans, servicemembers and spouses attended the Hiring Our Heroes career fair at the Legion’s 95th National Convention in Houston. More than 400 veterans came away with interviews, and more than 30 were hired on the spot.

Learn more about The American Legion’s efforts to help veterans find prosperous careers at www.legion.org/careeers.

Legacy Run Day 4: All in the family and a very special vest

7:41 a.m. – A Rider lost his hat on the way out of the Harley-Davidson stop on Tuesday. I grabbed it on the way out of the parking lot and am able to track down the owner: Lee Johnson. He thanks me. Yes, I saved a hat today.

8:18 a.m. – We drive through Shelby, N.C. A welcome sign reads “Home of The American Legion World Series.” Pretty cool.

8:21 a.m. – Run videographer Derek Tow finds a bug crawling on his cap and shows it to photographer Tom Strattman and I. “Is this a bedbug?” Tow asks. Strattman flinches; I tell Derek to throw it out the window.

9:14 a.m. – Derek emails a friend a picture of a second bug he finds. It’s a tick. We’re all a bit relieved.

9:59 a.m. – We pull over on the side of U.S. 74 to get photos and videos of the Run approaching. A police officer pulls over and asks if we’re OK. Nicest folks here.

10:50 a.m. – The Run arrives at Post 47 in Waynesville, N.C. Two fire trucks hoist large American flags, creating an arch for the riders to enter the post parking lot underneath. The post is along the outside of woods full of pine trees. The large wooden shelter along the woods was just completed last Saturday. There’s also a stage outside, complete with a sound system. Pink Floyd, Smashing Pumpkins and The Grateful Dead are among the music selections. So is Boyz II Men.

10:55 a.m. – Kimbra Messer, a member of the post’s Auxiliary unit and a Legion Rider, says “tons of planning” went into preparing for the Run’s stop. “This is awesome,” she says. “It’s such an honor for us to host this.”

11:09 a.m. – Lunch is being served: homemade pulled pork, coleslaw and baked beans. The meat, some 200 pounds of pork butts, was smoked for 14 hours by Chuck Rector, a Post 47 Legion Rider, the son of post commander Ken Rector and the owner of Blue Ridge BBQ Place. “We’re absolutely honored to have these guys come by,” Chuck says. “We’re really glad they came by and we could feed them.”

11:31 a.m. – Joe Lemanek, Post 47’s Riders historian, says the post has been planning for the Run stop for four months. “The Riders are a bunch of good people, so it’s great to have them stop by and meet them,” he says.

11:45 a.m. – Jon and Beth Gohr of Post 132 in New Ulm, Minn., are on their third Legacy Run. They still get impressed by the hospitality they receive during stops at posts along the ride. “It just gets you,” says Beth, holding her chest. “It’s just a good, warm feeling.” “You know it’s a good place when you go to a Legion post,” Jon adds.

Noon – Sharon Ruckle of Post 47 in Bradenton, Fla., does a strong job on the national anthem; a little bit later she sings her own song, “Tribute – A Military Anthem.”

12:05 p.m. – Taking the stage, Waynesville Mayor Gavin Brown is blunt. “Land of the free, home of the brave,” he says to the Riders. “You want to know the reason why that is? I’m looking at it. If you want to see someone important, look next to you.”

2:45 p.m. – The Run makes a stop at Habersham Hills Cinemas 6 in Mt. Airy, Ga. Habersham County Post 84 is there to provide drinks. It’s a proud moment for a post that was chartered in 1920, lost that charter in 2005 and then reformed in 2010. “This is a great chance to meet all the folks on the ride and support them,” Post 84 Commander Larry DeVergar says. “We’re trying to make it work again here, and this is a good moment for us.”

4:29 p.m. – At Post 127 in Buford, Ga., Mark Gosney of the Run’s advance team goes over the parking plan for the 242 bikes coming into the post. With all the stops this week, he and his crew have parked thousands of motorcycles. “It’s hectic, and it’s a challenge, to be honest,” he says. “Getting all the bikes parked isn’t a problem. It’s the lack of time to get it done. You have to make quick decisions.” Gosney says it also takes a strong team to get the job done. “You’ve got to have people willing to work and listen, and not question what you want done,” he says.

4:35 p.m. – Post 127 Commander Steve Adams calls having the Run stop at his post a “once in a lifetime” event. He also tells me about his post – which is impressive, to say the least. It’s on 33 acres and includes eight baseball fields that the post leases out to the city. Behind the post is a patio, veranda and a stage. It almost feels like a country club, sans the golf course and pretention.

4:46 p.m. – Harold Barnett, a past Georgia department commander and the leading candidate for 2015-2016 American Legion national commander, drove an hour and 15 minutes to greet the Run. He’s joined by Department Commander Randy Goodman and National Executive Committeeman Charles Wessinger, as well as other Georgia Legionnaires. “It’s important we support all the things The American Legion Riders do for the Legacy Fund,” Barnett says.

4:48 p.m. – The Run arrives, greeted by a slew of Georgia Legionnaires holding American flags.

5:02 p.m. – Ken Long is on his first Legacy Run. The Post 610 Legionnaire from Brook Park, Ohio, isn’t the only one making his ride debut. His daughter, Kristen Little – coming off her second year as an Auxiliary district president in Ohio – is riding alongside her dad. “This was on my bucket list,” Kristen says. “I told my dad I wanted to do it, and he said, ‘We’ll do it.’” “It didn’t take any arm twisting,” says Ken, who has been riding for more than 40 years. “This is for a good cause. A great cause.”

6:19 p.m. – Legion Rider Randy Gunn of Post 284 in Colonial Heights, Va., isn’t wearing his own vest during the Run. His vest belonged to Minnesota’s Les Pratt, who rode in six previous Legacy Runs and was registered for this one. But in late July, Les passed away unexpectedly. His daughter reached out to Gunn on Facebook to let Gunn know about Les’ passing. The family gave Gunn his vest to wear during the Run, as well as $500 – what Les normally donated during the Run. Another $2,440 was donated by Les’ friends and co-workers in Minnesota. “I didn’t know Les that well,” Gunn says. “But it’s a brotherhood out here. We weren’t good friends, but we were friends who looked forward to seeing each other on the Run each year. His daughter told me, ‘Dad talked about you all the time.’ It’s because we always looked forward to spending these 10 or so days together. It’s really something how all of this worked out.”

6:35 p.m. – More than $58,000 come in during the event at Post 127 – including $11,000 from Post 233 in Loganville, Ga. The total going into today: more than $375,000.

 

Today: The Run finishes up at Post 155 in Kings Mountain, N.C.

Follow the 2014 Legacy Run here, on Facebook and on Twitter using hashtag #LegacyRun.

New Jersey wins consecutive World Series title

When Brooklawn, N.J., Post 72 and Midland, Mich., Post 165 players took the field Tuesday evening for the 88th American Legion World Series (ALWS) championship game, they each received a special good luck handshake from famed NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The tone for the championship game was set shortly after that in the first inning.

Michigan was held scoreless in the top of the first while New Jersey earned four quick runs in its side - off home plate steals by Adam Fitzgibbon and Pete Farlow and a two-run RBI single from Tre Todd.

From that point on, the runs didn't stop pouring in for New Jersey, which won last year's ALWS in similar fashion when it enacted the 10-run mercy rule over Petaluma, Calif.

By the top of the seventh, New Jersey had an 18-0 lead over Michigan and that game was called, giving the Mid-Atlantic Regional winners their second consecutive ALWS win and their fourth overall title. It was Brooklawn’s 15th ALWS appearance and the first time in 40 years a World Series team has won a back-to-back championship title.

“We came out with four runs, got our nerves out, and it was a smooth run the rest of the way. It was exhilarating,” New Jersey pitcher Tyler Mondile said. “Taking the win again is awesome.”

Steven Mondile agreed with his brother Tyler about the win, saying, “The second win feels better than the first. My pop past away early in the year, so I’m just happy that we could win the World Series for him. It meant a lot.”

New Jersey improved to 54-7 on the season and 5-0 in the ALWS pool play. Michigan ended the season 50-8 and 3-2 in the pool play.

“We got here to the World Series and won. There’s no better feeling in the world,” New Jersey right fielder Fran Kinsey said.

And in familiar fashion, the ALWS paid attendance record was broken. Total paid attendance for the 2014 Series was 110,036, eclipsing the 2013 record of 104,726. The championship game had a total paid attendance of nearly 8,000, which is a single-game record.

Following the championship game, several players from New Jersey and other Series teams were presented Legion Baseball awards. The recipients were:

George W. Rulon Player of the Year – Sean Breen of Brooklawn, N.J., Post 72

“I am so thankful for this award,” Breen said. “This is really exciting to win the World Series and then be named the Player of the Year; pretty rewarding.”

Rawlings Big Stick Award – Anthony Harrold from Brooklawn, N.J., Post 72; Sean Breen from Brooklawn, N.J., Post 72; and Kyle Pausche from Jacksonville, Fla., Post 88.

Louisville Slugger Batting Champion – Sean Breen from Brooklawn, N.J., Post 72, compiled a .579 batting average.

Dr. Irvin L. "Click" Cowger RBI Memorial Award – Jordan Mopas from Waipahu, Hawaii, had 13 RBIs.

Bob Feller Pitching Award – Jake Meyers of Omaha, Neb., Post 1, compiled 29 strikeouts in regionals and World Series tournaments.

James F. Daniel Jr. Memorial Sportsmanship Award – Tanner Gross of Midland, Mich., Post 165.

Legacy Run Day 3: Sun, warmer temps and a new supporter

7:55 a.m. – In the parking lot of the Holiday Inn Express in Danville there’s already a different feel in the air. It could be from the fact the sun is shining. Could also be the 85-percent humidity.

8:02 a.m. – Chief Tail Gunner Dennis Joynt of Post 136 in Mulvane, Kan. – “the home of the Patriot Guard,” he tells me – said having the sun out and not already being drenched from rain is just a perk to the ride. “You get to wake up in this country and see the sites,” he says. “You’re around friends. It’s just awesome. Nice weather is just an added bonus.”

8:25 a.m. – The air horn goes off, signaling it’s five minutes from kickstands up. One of the female riders vocalizes what is likely the group’s thought: “Sunshine, Sunshine!” she says rather giddily.

8:57 a.m. – The Run pulls into Dan Daniel Memorial Park for a group photo. One of the ladies trying to organize the group for the photo mentions she wishes she had a whip to crack.

9:12 a.m. – A blessing is provided by Pastor Meredith Williams of Ascension Lutheran Church in Danville.

9:17 a.m. – National Commander Dan Dellinger does an interview with River City TV, praising the reception the Run received in Danville.

9:23 a.m. – Breakfast is served at the park: a variety of biscuit sandwiches, along with juice, water and coffee.

9:42 a.m. – Nalena Klaas got tired of getting on the back of her husband’s Harley-Davidson, so four years ago she bought herself a Can-Am Spyder (a three-wheel motorcycle with two wheels in the front and one in the back). The treasurer for Post 284’s Legion Riders in Colonial Heights, Va., Klaas says going with a three-wheeler was an easy decision. “I’ve rode two wheelers, but I’ve also dumped two wheelers,” she says. “I’m 68 years old, so I’m too old for that. I like the stability of the Spyder – and I really like all the storage space.”

11: 57 a.m. – Under police escort, the Run pulls into Post 55 in Winston-Salem, N.C., where a lunch of subs – or possibly heroes, grinders or hoagies – awaits them. Members of the posts Scouting program help serve the food.

12:06 p.m. –Commander Tommy Coggins starts to choke up when talking about the Run making a stop at Post 55. “I get a little sentimental here,” he says. “It’s such an honor for us to have the ride stop here. And I think it turned out really well. A couple people told me it was the best police escort they’ve ever had.”

12:17 p.m. – While accepting donations, National Commander Dan Dellinger notes that the ride was “a lot easier this morning than it was yesterday.” Coggins then announces that he’d like Riders to sign the banner that was hanging from the overpass so that the post can then raffle it off and donate the money to the Legacy Fund.

12:25 p.m. – David Windmiller of Post 177 in Fairfax, Va., tells the group that his wife, Madelyn, started up a conversation in their parking lot hotel earlier in the day. The man found out about the Run and gave Madelyn $20 before pledging an entire day of his radio show – “Tabernacle Time,” based out of Danville, Va. – to talk about and raise money for the Legacy Fund.

12:30 p.m. – More than $14,000 is donated during the stop at Post 55, bringing the total to nearly $310,000.

1:50 p.m. – The Run pulls into Tilley Harley-Davidson in Statesville, N.C., where the employees have put out cookies and water. Seems like a fair deal, as dozens of Riders immediately head inside the retail section of the dealership to shop.

2:02 p.m. – Temperatures are in the high 80s in the parking lot of Tilley H-D, which is nothing to Mike Amig, who is a member of Post 316 in Jacksonville, Fla., and spends much of his time as a Northrop Grumman defense contractor working in Afghanistan. He’s on his third full Legacy Run and schedules his “R&R” back in the States around the ride. “It’s a great program that supports the children of our fallen heroes,” he says. “I’ve been planning this for a year out.” Amig didn’t get home until Aug. 6. A smart man, he had his wife, Robin, join him on the Run.

4:30 p.m. – The Run arrives at the parking lot of the Gaston Gazette in Gastonia, N.C. USAA has provided a meal of grilled chicken, pulled pork, rice, chips and drinks.

4:41 p.m. – Assistant Road Captain Tim Cowley, now on his seventh full Legacy Run, said he’s not starting to think about how the ride is getting close to being finished. “I’ll probably start thinking about that at 3 o’clock on Thursday,” he says with a laugh. “It’s day by day, trying to make it the best possible day you can.”

5 p.m. – I’m still pretty intrigued by the story the Windmillers told at lunch so I track down Madelyn for more details. It turns out that the Christian radio show she mentioned earlier is the oldest-running daily religious broadcast in the nation, now having been on the air for more than 82 years. Rev. R.J. Barber Jr. has been doing the show for 53 years himself. “He believes in doing it to help others,” Madelyn says of Barber. “That’s what we do. The first words of our preamble are ‘For God and country.’ A lot of military members have given their lives for us. It’s the least we can do to make sure their kids have an opportunity to go to college and aren’t forgotten. I think that’s how he saw it.”

 

Today: The Run makes stops at Post 47 in Waynesvile, N.C.; and Post 2640 in Buford, Ga.

Follow the 2014 Legacy Run here, on Facebook and on Twitter using hashtag #LegacyRun.

Exit Strategy

The Great Recession forced many Americans to tighten their personal balance sheets. But six years later, a dark cloud of debt still looms large. Student loan debt has eclipsed $1.2 trillion. Credit card and revolving debt is off its highs but still rings in at nearly $900 billion. Americans have more than $3 trillion in outstanding debt, and that doesn’t include mortgages. IN OVER YOUR HEAD? These numbers are mind-boggling, but they don’t really capture the essence of the trench warfare taking place in U.S. homes. For many, the battle rages on. Are you in the fight? Are prospective lenders knocking down your door or running for the hills at the sight of your application? Here are three numbers you should examine for a clue as to whether you’re in too deep:
  • Debt-to-income ratio Divide your monthly payments on all your debts (auto loans, mortgage, credit cards) by your monthly gross income. Anything below 36 percent is considered acceptable; anything over 40 percent is a warning shot across your financial bow.
  • Credit score The “excellent” range for FICO scores starts at 750. But a good score alone is not enough to determine if things are OK. I’ve seen plenty of folks with a great score and a ton of debt. You could be headed for trouble if your score is trending down because of too much debt or late payments. Know your score, but look ahead.
  • Retirement savings Too much debt can result in too little saving. A couple of years ago, Fidelity published its retirement-savings guidelines. The research concluded that an individual should have the equivalent of his or her salary saved for retirement by 35, three times that at 45, and five times at 55. While not necessarily retirement planning gospel, this approach could give you a usable benchmark. Are you feeling good now or rationalizing your numbers?
THE ROAD OUT If you’re beginning to think things in your financial world are not as they should be, let’s examine the path ahead:
  • Budgeting Call it a spending plan, belt-tightening or whatever is necessary to get you to start tracking your income and expenses. The goal? Cut back and cut out to free up cash that can be applied to your existing debts. Spreadsheets, smartphone applications and other online tools linked to your bank accounts can aid the process. Where to get help: On-installation personal financial-readiness classes and counselors, credit counseling services, personal finance classes, hourly fee-based financial planners
  • Debt consolidation Combining all your debts into a single account can be an attractive option. Ideally, your newly consolidated account will have a low interest rate, or at least lower than your existing accounts. A couple of cautionary notes, though. First, for this to work you’ve got to address the root cause of your debt. If your debt is a byproduct of spending more than you earn and you don’t fix your excessive spending, you’ll end up with a big loan and a bunch of other debts. Second, if you end up using a secured loan – like a home equity loan – to consolidate unsecured debt, you’re putting the roof over your head at risk. Where to get help: Your bank or credit union, mortgage lenders, a credit counseling service’s debt-management plan
  • Negotiation This could mean talking to your existing creditors and trying to persuade them to lower the interest rate on your debt. Less interest means more of your payment goes toward your debt. It could also mean offering to pay less than you owe to knock out the debt. While asking for an interest rate reduction is almost always a good idea, paying a reduced amount or settling your debt could negatively impact your credit score. Where to get help: You can do this yourself.
  • Bankruptcy Sometimes the hole is just too deep, like one caused by a huge medical bill or several years of unemployment. Bankruptcy could allow you a fresh start. But all bankruptcy filings are not created equal. In a Chapter 13 filing, a repayment plan is created to pay what you owe, typically over the next three to five years. In a Chapter 7 filing, the court discharges your debts, and you may lose property. While bankruptcy doesn’t seem to carry the stigma it did in the past, it’s still a big deal that will cost you money and haunt your credit profile for years. It’s also important to get the legal counsel to ensure you do it right. Where to get help: A qualified bankruptcy attorney
WHEN TO ASK FOR HELP Bankruptcy is a prime example of when you should (and may have to) get outside help. It’s not the only time a third party can provide valuable assistance on your journey out of debt. It could be that you’ve tried on your own and failed, or just want some assistance. Sometimes all you need is an accountability partner. No doubt most financial problems can be fixed on your own, but getting help can make a difference. Despite all the advertisements, one “resource” that didn’t make my list are debt-settlement firms. These programs can be expensive, drive down your credit score and ultimately result in more harm than good. So steer clear of anything that sounds too good to be true. Unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet to fix debt issues. Pin your financial security on the fundamentals. Spend less than you earn, save for emergencies, use insurance to protect against major financial issues and have a plan to get to a better place. J.J. Montanaro is a certified financial planner with USAA Financial Planning Services, one of the USAA family of companies. USAA is The American Legion’s preferred provider for financial services.
Legacy Run Day 2: 'A little bit of wet weather is nothing'

5:40 a.m. – Alarm goes off. Look outside. Raining even harder than Sunday.

7:15 a.m. – Driving along U.S. 460 East we see a two-car accident has shut down the lane heading back into Pikesville, Ky. Nostradamus-like, I say, “This may slow things down a little bit.”

9:06 a.m. – We (myself, Run photographer Tom Strattman and videographer Derek Tow) arrive at the Wal-Mart in Grundy, Va. Thanks to the kind folks at Wal-Mart, Post 164 in Grundy has turned the lower level of the store's parking garage into a welcome center/parking spot for the 300 motorcycles set to arrive.

9:10 a.m. – Post 164 Adjutant Les Clevinger says that when the pre-Run planning group came through Grundy in December, there were six inches of snow and ice on the ground. “But we told them if they’ll come back here, we’ll make sure to give them a meal,” Clevinger said.

9:16 a.m. – Clevinger and the rest of Post 164’s Legion family has delivered on his promise. Working from 2:30-9 p.m. Sunday and starting up again at 3 a.m. today, they have made breakfast sandwiches, laying them out with fruit, donuts, coffee and juice. Getting up early today was no big deal. “We’ll rest tomorrow,” says Betty Clevinger, an Auxiliary member and Les’ wife. Auxiliary Unit 164 President Shelia Sish adds that it’s an “absolute honor” to have the Run stop in Grundy.

9:58 a.m. – There’s a steady rain as the Run begins to pull into the parking garage.

10:02 p.m. – Todd Rider (an appropriate last name) of Post 289 in New York is dripping wet. But like everyone that I’ve talked to, it can always be worse. “It’s not too bad,” he says. “Going so slow kills your arms and back. But it’s worth it.”

10:25 a.m. – During the program, Grundy Town Manager James Keen praises the Legion for its service to veterans. Mayor Diann Blankenship reads a town resolution honoring the Run and Riders. Department Commander Gerald Rhoads thanks Post 164 for its hospitality. And Kemper Bausell, who spent three years playing in the band at Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Va., does a strong version of the national anthem on the trumpet.

10:40 a.m. – National Commander Dan Dellinger is wearing waterproof pants that he admits later aren’t very waterproof any longer. But, he says, “I don’t think there is one person out there who is doing any complaining about being wet – because of what you’re doing today for the children tomorrow.”

4:12 p.m. – As we pull into Post 3 in Salem, Va., we’re somewhat awe-struck. The solid brick building looks like a home overlooking a plantation. In fact, that’s what it was at one time. The plantation spanned more than 1,000 acres; Post 3 has hung onto 16 acres and lets the local volleyball league use the front part of the property to set up nets in exchange for providing lawn care for the post.

4:29 p.m. – Post 3 Commander Cecil Doss takes me on a tour of the post, pointing out that the first post commander was C. Francis Coke, who was in Paris for the Legion’s first caucus and then established the Department of Virginia. Doss said the post set up for the Run’s visit from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday and then started cooking at 9 a.m. today. “It’s an honor for it to stop at our post,” he says. “Raising money for these kids – that’s what The American Legion is for.” Doss also is proud of the fact that the post’s baseball team has won the district tournament the past two seasons; for his longtime involvement with area baseball, including as a coach, Doss will be inducted into the Salem-Roanoke Baseball Hall of Fame this year.

5:40 p.m. – The Run pulls into Post 3 and dines on Italian sausages, chips and cookies.

5:50 p.m. – Jim Fleming has been on all nine Legacy Runs and, as Texas department commander, helped lead the Run into his home state in 2013. He remembers worse rain – Oklahoma on the way to what he thinks was Phoenix – but never this much rain. “I’ve never seen anything like this.” Doesn’t mean he’s ready to call it quits. “You just keep going,” he says. “You think of the sacrifices made by the men and women, the reason we do this ride, and then you think a little bit of wet weather is nothing.”

6:19 p.m. – Bob Schnell, a member of Post 500 in Speedway, Ind., presents Dellinger with $100 that he says came from a man he hadn’t seen since 1966: Bill Blevins, who served with Schnell in the Navy and now lives in nearby Roanoke.

9 p.m. – The Run has arrived at Post 325 in Danville, Va., and is enjoying a fried chicken dinner. Community members, including school children, waited all night to greet the Run as it reached the city, waving flags and cheering in support of the Legion Riders.

9:10 p.m. – Post 325 Commander Kenny Fitzgerald, who started on the Run in Indianapolis, tells the crowd, “This is my second Legacy Run. I’m hooked.” Fitzgerald also says that he’s proud of the Riders and proud of his city for greeting the Run the way it did. “It was a little strange (coming back by his own post during the Run),” Fitzgerald tells me. “With the rain and the weather, you can think, ‘I’m just going to call it quits and go home.’ But no, I’m going the rest of the way.”

9:18 p.m. – The Riders join together to sing the close of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.”

9:30 p.m. – Danville Mayor Sherman Saunders, himself a member of Post 29 in Danville, helped lead the Riders into the city. On stage at Post 325, he reads a proclamation which names Aug. 18, as American Legion Legacy Run Day.

9:39 p.m. – Rob Phelps, Virginia’s 6th District commander and a member of Post 325, has been with the Run since Indianapolis and has rode on six Runs so far. Seeing the sunshine between Salem and Danville – for the most part, the first time the dominant entity in our solar system has made an appearance since Sunday morning – was “a breath of fresh air,” Phelps said. He adds that bringing the Run to his post, “shows the rest of the post how much the Riders mean to us. The post is so good about supporting the Riders. This is a chance to show them why we do what we do.”

9:51 p.m. – More than $14,000 in donations are delivered at Post 325, bringing the total raised for this year’s Run so far to $295,000.

 

Today: After a breakfast and group photo at Dan Daniel Memorial Park in Danville, Va., the Run makes stops at Post 55 in Winston-Salem, N.C., and Tilley Harley-Davidson in Statesville, N.C.

Follow the 2014 Legacy Run here, on Facebook and on Twitter using hashtag #LegacyRun.

World Series championship set: New Jersey vs. Michigan

During Game 13 on Monday, Brooklawn, N.J., Post 72 eliminated Waipahu, Hawaii, from the 2014 American Legion World Series (ALWS) in Shelby, N.C. Both teams remained scoreless until the bottom of the fourth inning when returning New Jersey player and the Legion’s 2013 George Rulon Player of the Year, Anthony Harrold, hit an RBI single to put the first run on the scoreboard. New Jersey went on to earn five more runs in the bottom of the fifth and one in the seventh to score a 7-6 victory over Hawaii.

Hawaii scored two runs in the top of the sixth with RBI singles from Jordan Mopus and Cameron Igarashi, and then added a run in the top of the seventh. New Jersey's 6-3 lead shrunk to 7-6 in the top of the eighth to 7-6 after three RBIs, two from Hawaii catcher Kamalu Neal, but it wasn’t enough to capture the win. Hawaii ended the season 25-6 and 2-2 in the pool play.

“Hawaii can hit the ball, and they are really good defensively too; they didn’t have any errors against us. They are a good team,” said New Jersey catcher Tre Todd. “It was definitely in the back of our head that we could lose the game against them, but you just have to take care of the ball and not make errors, and we had to come up big on the plate.

“We have a lot of confidence as a team. Our expectations from the beginning was to make it to the final game. When you have that in your mind, you think you’re unstoppable.”

New Jersey left fielder John Malatesta is looking forward to playing the championship game televised live on ESPNU.

“It’s unbelievable getting to play on actual television,” he said. “This is a whole new experience, and I’m really fired up to see what the championship is like. I can’t wait to play.”

New Jersey improved to 53-7 on the season and 4-0 in ALWS pool play to win the Eastern pool, allowing them to advance to Tuesday’s championship game in hopes of claiming a second consecutive Series title.

During Game 14, New Jersey players anxiously waited to see who they were going to play in the championship game — Midland, Mich., Post 165 or Omaha, Neb., Post 1.

Nebraska started the game off with a run in the first inning and then followed in the third inning with a home run from Jake Meyers, who brought the crowd to its feet. Michigan earned its first run in the top of the fifth off an RBI single from Adam Fitzgibbon, then Steel O’Boyle hit a double and was sent home by Tanner Gross in the top of the seventh to tie the game at 2-2.

Michigan designated hitter Josh Moody hit RBI singles in the top of the seventh and ninth, giving Michigan the lead at 4-2. Nebraksa remained scoreless for five innings until center fielder Alex Nielsen knocked an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth to close the gap to 4-3. But Nebraska couldn't add any further to the scoreboard, giving Michigan a 4-3 win and a spot in Tuesday’s championship game.

Michigan improved to 50-7 on the season and 3-1 in the ALWS pool play to become the runner-ups of the Eastern pool. Nebraska ended the season 58-6 and 3-1 in the pool play.

“I think we were a little nervous to start the game off, but we are just happy to be here so we tried to make it as fun as possible,” Moody said. “I think that calmed a lot of nerves down. Now, we are in the championship game and might as well win it all.”

Michigan right fielder Stryker O’Boyle said he and his teammates are not worried about playing undefeated and returning World Series champions New Jersey.

“This win means everything for the team,” O’Boyle said. “We are not nervous competing against Brooklawn (N.J.) tomorrow. We know we can beat them. They beat us by one in the last game (Game 9), so we are ready for them.”

The World Series championship game is set for Tuesday and will be televised live on ESPNU:

Game 15, 7 p.m.: Brooklawn, N.J. vs. Midland, Mich.

Read game highlights here.

And read game coverage by former 82 Airborne Paratrooper, newspaper sports reporter and current American Legion National Baseball Subcommittee member Carl Hennell here.

CSX bringing at least 75 'career opportunities' to convention job fair

CSX Corporation, the rail transportation giant and perennial top-10 Military Friendly Employer, will be in attendance at the Legion's 96th National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., sponsoring a job-skills workshop and participating in the Hiring Our Heroes career fair on Aug. 26. The company will have at least 75 career opportunities available at the career fair - all of which can be viewed on CSX's website.

Headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla., CSX Corporation owns and operates about 21,000 miles of railroad tracks through its main subsidiary - CSX Transportation - that cover the Eastern Seaboard and eastern half of the United State., extending into some parts of Canada. CSX employs about 36,000 employees, and about 20 percent of them are current military or veterans.

At CSX, veteran and military employees are often well suited to work within the company's union operations, which includes positions as freight conductors, track workers, car repair workers, and communication and signal technicians. Former military offiers often find a home in management or leadership development roles.

On its web page devoted to recruiting military employees, CSX also offers a "Career Opportunities" matrix for veterans to reference in determining how prior military experience and skills can be translated into careers at the company. For example, a veteran or servicemember with logistics or transportation experience from the military is well suited to work in CSX's transportation division as a freight conductor.

Additionally, CSX has special hiring and recruitment policies and practices for finding military and veterans for career opportunities. It employs a full-time military specialist who specifically recruits veterans, servicemembers and spouses, and it accepts technical certification for military experience in any field.

CSX also has a practice of marking and tracking applications from veterans, servicemembers and spouses. Those 'military applicants' are reviewed by the company's military hiring specialist for further review and correspondence.

Veterans, servicemembers and spouses with skill sets and experience in transportation, engineering, maintenance, management and information technology should visit CSX's booth at the Hiring Our Heroes career fair to inquire about career opportunities available with the rail transportation giant.

Legacy Run Day 1: 'The cause' trumps the rain

American Legion Social Media Manager Steve B. Brooks is driving a 2014 Ford Explorer containing the Legacy Run media team throughout the entire ride.

7:10 a.m. – Past National Commander Bob Spanogle is riding along for part of this year’s Legacy Run. Spanogle was national adjutant when the Run started in 2006. He remembers a stop along that ride at Fort Leavenworth, during which the commander of the base was one David Petraeus. The Run got to “parade the post,” Spanogle says, and Petraeus saluted as it went by. The Run has grown by leaps and bounds since then – a fact that doesn’t surprise Spanogle. “When you have a program or activity that generates interest like this, it’s going to grow and keep growing,” he says.

7:16 a.m. – At the road captain briefing at Post 64 in Indianapolis, National Commander Daniel Dellinger closes the meeting with “God bless the work you all are doing.”

7:22 a.m. – During the all-rider briefing, Chief Road Captain Bob Sussan of Virginia is succinct. “We might have rain,” he says. “So suit up. We’re not stopping.” Sussan's warning proved prophetic.

7:27 a.m. – Sussan has been on all eight previous Legacy Runs and spent the past few heading up the advance team. “It’s a big deal, and it’s an honor,” he says of being asked to lead the ride. “Not many people get to lead this many bikes. But we have a lot of good road captains. When you don’t have good road captains, that’s when you have problems.”

8 a.m. – Sussan leads the 314 motorcycles and 71 passengers out of the Post 64 parking lot; folks stand along each side of the entrance into the parking lot waving flags.

10:06 a.m. – Shirley Joynt, a member of the Legacy Run’s advance team and a Rider from Post 32 in Saginaw, Mich., preps for the gas stop at the Flying J Truck Stop in Walton, Ky. She says it’s important to expect the unexpected at fuel stops. “You never know exactly how it’s going to go until it happens,” she says. “And when something does happen, you need to roll with the change. It’s a challenge, but we make it work.”

12:44 p.m. – Members of Man O’ War Post 8 in Lexington, Ky., wait for the Run to arrive at Man O’ War Harley-Davidson, where a hot dog lunch awaits it. Post Commander Ron Wash says, “It’s amazing we are able to participate in this Run. You’re always proud to be a part of something this important.”

1 p.m. – The Run pulls into the Harley store parking lot amid a pretty nasty downpour that has been hitting for the past hour or so. Burt Simon, a member of Post 14 in West Virginia, said that this kind of rain normally would cause him to pull over. “But you can’t stop a group this big,” he says. “So you just need to be awful careful and make sure to extend your stopping distance. And you really need to pay attention to the people around you.”

2:44 p.m. – At the gas stop in Clay City, Ky., Sharon Sculthorpe – a member of the advance team – notices my shoes are wet and offers some advice: sticking newspapers in them will absorb the water overnight. I tell her I likely will need to put coffee filter packs in as well to absorb the scent.

2:51 p.m. – I’m disappointed to find out that the six-pack of Ale 8 in returnable bottles advertised on a sign in front of the Gulf Station is actually a soft drink.

3 p.m. – Run videographer Derek Tow throws up in the bathroom of the Gulf station. He says it’s probably from bad coffee he got earlier on the ride.

4:03 p.m. – While driving along the Bert T. Coombs Mountain Parkway, Public Image Ltd. starts playing on Sirius’ First Wave. I think Run photographer Tom Strattman is humming along; I look over and see he’s actually fallen asleep and might be grunting to it.

6:45 p.m. – In a drizzling rain, the Run pulls into Pikesville, Ky., where part of the famous Hatfield-McCoy feud took place. There’s no gunfire today.

7:05 p.m. – National Commander Dellinger rode in the sidecar of Earl Ruttofsky, past national commander of the Sons of The American Legion, all day but has no complaints about the weather. “The windshield really blocked most of the rain,” he says. “But it was a great day. Nobody got hurt in the rain, and that’s the big thing. And we’ll be fine because we all know it’s about the cause. We’re here to show how dedicated we are to this cause.”

7:09 p.m. – The day’s weather isn’t lost on Rev. Ron Brown during his evening prayer. “We often had rain coming down, but we know it’s holy,” he says.

7:20 p.m. – More than $20,000 is donated to the Legacy Fund during check presentations, bringing the total to nearly $280,000.

 

Today: The Run departs Pikesville and makes stops in Grundy, Va., and at Post 3 in Salem, Va., before finishing up at Post 325 in Danville, Va.

Follow the 2014 Legacy Run here, on Facebook and on Twitter using hashtag #LegacyRun.

2014 Legion Baseball All-Academic Team announced

The nine-player 2014 American Legion Baseball All-Academic Team was announced during the 88th American Legion World Series in Shelby, N.C. The team captain will receive a $5,000 scholarship and the other eight players will receive a $2,500 scholarship, sponsored by Diamond Sports.

The players were initially nominated by their Legion Baseball team manager or head coach, and then each respective state department’s baseball committee reviewed the submitted applications and selected an overall state winner. The state winners were reviewed by the World Series Scholarship Committee, which consists of Legionnaires and academic representatives. The nine players are entering their freshman year of college.

The scholarship winners are:

Team Captain – Matthew Walsh of South Weymouth, Mass., played Legion Baseball for Post 79.

Northeast Region – Ryan Ward of Holden, Maine, played Legion Baseball for Post 211.

Mid-Atlantic Region – Drake Rivera of Newark, Del., played Legion Baseball for Post 10

Southeast Region – Tyler Garrett of Greenville, N.C., played Legion Baseball for Post 39

Mid-South Region – Tucker Sweely of Newton, Kan., played Legion Baseball for Post 2

Great Lakes Region – Joshua Crist of Elizabeth, Ill., played Legion Baseball for Post 707

Central Plains Region – Benjamin Hintz of Hebron, Neb., played Legion Baseball for Post 180

Northwest Region – Slade Heggen of Missoula, Mont., played Legion Baseball for Post 27

Western Region – Cooper Casad of Petaluma, Calif., played Legion Baseball for Post 28

Diamond Sports Co., Inc., is a leading manufacturer in baseball, softball and football merchandise, and is the official baseball used during Legion national tournaments. The agreement between the two organizations involves Diamond providing $25,000 in scholarship funds for the nine-player All-Academic Team.