Today was a big day for my family. The local American Legion dedicated a room in my father’s memory. He was a 5 time Post Commander of the Legion. Dad loved everything about his service to the community through the Legion. Whether it be fundraising, organizing, rolling his sleeves up and getting dirty or doing several honor guard funerals a week, Dad loved it all. He felt honored to do the work. He felt called to do the work.
So many people turned out today and shared their beautiful memories with us. The room that was dedicated is particularly special. There was an unused space that was in need of repair. Dad started doing research on the needs of younger veterans and realized they needed a space that served these new members. The ball started rolling to get this room remodeled and underway. Unfortunately, in 2013 Dad had a stroke which did not allow him to be active with the legion in a leadership position anymore. The great men and women of the legion continued the work and saw the room to completion. So many community volunteer hours were spent to finish that space. I am grateful that Dad did get to see the finished room and here we are a year later, the day before what would have been his 67th birthday, dedicating the room in his honor.
I wrote and rewrote the words I wanted to speak today many times. I practiced the words over and over to make sure I could get through the speech without breaking down. I, once again, wanted to honor Dad in the best way I knew how–by speaking of his love for the Legion and the people in that place. Here are the words I finally settled on and I spoke today on behalf of my family. It was truly a wonderful day. I know Dad was smiling down on all of us.
On behalf of my sister Tiffany, Uncle and Aunt and the rest of my family, we thank you for honoring my father in this way. The Legion, all of you, the work you did and the memories were so central to his life.
We, as a family, have felt his loss every day over the last year. And, you wonder, whether others think about him too and miss the person he was. Getting the message that this room was going to be dedicated to him reassured me that others felt the loss just as much.
Working on the issues important to the Legion and veterans fulfilled my Dad. This room is a testament to that. Along with you, he wanted to make sure younger vets had a place to go that met their needs as they returned from active duty. Now this room will stand as a place for peace and quiet when needed. It will be a place that even, as a family, we can come to and just sit and think about Dad. It is an honor to see his name here.
Our family would like to provide a gift for this room. Over the last year, Tiffany and I have slowly made our way through his belongings and memories. It was clear from this just how much he loved this place. We found these scrapbooks that he made over the years. We want to present them to you to have in this space.
We appreciate the work of the Salamanca American Legion. We appreciate the dedication of our veterans that come here. We appreciate the way you still think of my father.