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National American Legion Auxiliary President visits Montgomery
If ever there was a mother hen watching over her flock, it is National President of the American Legion Auxiliary, Peggy Thomas of Richmond, V.A.
She has a lot of “mothering” goals: increase membership in auxiliaries; be angels in service to veterans; talk about the good the auxiliaries do; provide scholarships to children of servicemen and women; and take care of the homeless veterans, especially the women and children.
These were some of the goals Thomas spoke about at a special dinner in her honor in Montgomery on Monday, March 4, during her national tour. Speaking with a touch of laryngitis, Thomas told the crowd at the Legion her theme, since being elected in August, 2012, at the 92nd National Convention, was to soar into new heights. She said she didn’t want to outdo past presidents’ accomplishment, rather to build on what has already been done.
Thomas called the volunteers in their organizations “Angels in Service” and spoke of how building the membership will not only make their organization stronger, but it will ultimately help veterans too.
“There is strength in numbers,” she said.
She also talked-up the role of the Auxiliary, a role that can sometimes take a backseat to the American Legion. But she shared that during her travels, no matter what base she has stayed on, the Auxilians have always been treated with the utmost respect.
“You are a premier organization,” she told the Auxilians. “Never under-sell yourselves or your organization.”
She also told everyone that they need to talk about the good they do in the communities and what they do for veterans.
“We’re our best kept secret,” she said.
One of Thomas’ special projects is Scholarship For Children of Warriors, for children of servicemen and women, and veterans. When she started raising money for the project, her goal was $30,000. As of Monday, her total was at $30,846. She stressed the importance of the project and the impact it can have on those youth.
“These children have suffered too. They don’t have a lot of money,” she said. “These children often stay with relatives, who sometimes want them and sometimes don’t. The children pay the price.”
Another of Thomas’ concerns was the large number of homeless veterans, something she called a “disgrace”, particularly the women and children, who are often afraid to take advantage of services that could help them.
“I want you to remember they are our sisters. If we don’t help them, shame on us,” she said. “I know we can’t help them all, but help those who you can. Remember, when you leave here, someone is sleeping on the street, and it’s cold.”
Thomas thanked Montgomery Mayor Jean Keogh and the State of Minnesota for their hospitality. The National President didn’t leave Montgomery without souvenirs of the Czech area. She received a table runner, sewn and quilted by 1st Vice President Darlene Wondra, and Susan Tuma of the New Prague Auxiliary, two monetary donations for her scholarship fund, a key to the City of Montgomery and some kolackies, of course.
The evening closed with a prayer by Montgomery’s Department Champlain, Linda Ruhland.