Commander: Keep on the sunny side of the Legion

By Paul Hassing
National Commander Dan Seehafer shakes Department Commander Paul Hassing's hand at Golden Valley Post 523 in April after handing him a distinctive challenge coin.

Hello American Legion family.

I want to start off the article by getting something off my chest. I’ve been talking all year about how we need to be open to new ideas, and to not be afraid to try new things.

A Legionnaire approached me earlier in the year with a bold new idea they wanted to try. It was out of the box, and the idea could really work if done correctly.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, and I was told by someone that the idea wasn’t working, and it was causing problems. I conveyed that to others without finding out firsthand if it was working or not. I automatically went the negative route.

Paul Hassing mugshot
Paul Hassing

It turns out the idea is working, and I was wrong for jumping to conclusions without verifying, and I was also wrong for conveying that to others before I went to the source. I am sorry, and I promise to do better. I think if our organization is going to survive, we need more thinking outside of the proverbial box and a lot less negativity.

I think most of us that get involved with various organizations do so in part to make a difference. I know sometimes it doesn’t feel like you are. I know you get tired and wonder if what you’re doing is worth it. I know you wonder if anyone cares anymore.

Believe me they do care, and you are making a difference. It may not be evident right away, and sometimes the credit goes to the wrong people, but hang in there. What you are doing means so much to so many people. Sometimes we can give a lot, and sometimes just a little. It all matters, and I thank all of you for everything you do.

We had a great time with National Commander Dan Seehafer and Commander’s Aide Mike Rohan. The two of them are a wealth of knowledge, and I am very fortunate to have been able to pick a part of their brain for a few days.

Thank you for the great hospitality and all the hard work that went into making his trip successful and showing them what the greatest department in the American Legion can do.

Adjutant Mike Maxa did a great job coordinating the whole thing and getting us where we needed to go. Membership Director Pam Krill, and Communications Director Tim Engstrom also did outstanding jobs.

On another note, it turns out that Department of South Dakota Commander Courtney Steffen and I have the same birthday, so on June 8 we are having a little get together in Big Stone City, S.D. It’s an American Legion post right on the border. It will be a good time, and hopefully raise some money for our projects. All are invited.

On June 13-15 at Mall of America they are having a 50th anniversary Vietnam War commemoration put on by the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs. All are welcome, and we are also looking for volunteers. A program takes place at 11 a.m. June 14.

My testimonial will be in Montgomery on June 22nd. I am hoping you can make it. It should be a great time.

In closing, I really can’t stress enough the importance of relaxing a bit and taking time out to enjoy the things we love. Life is very short, and I know we all want to do whatever we can to make that difference, but what good is making that difference if you don’t enjoy doing it. Remember, success is only real success if you have someone to share the joy of success with.

I really hope to see you all on the road ahead.

Paul Hassing of Bloomington  Post 550 is the commander of The American Legion Department of Minnesota. His theme is “The Road Ahead.”