President’s Column: Be The One to help your local veterans

By Sharon Cross

Thank you to everyone who attended the American Legion Family Department Convention. Let me introduce myself. I have been an Auxiliary member since my first birthday. I originally qualified through my dad, but I also qualify to be a member through my grandfather, my three sons and one of my two daughters, who are all veterans.

I am humbled and honored to represent all our members as I travel this year as your department president. I look forward to meeting new faces and staying connected to our Legion Family.

Mugshot for Sharon Cross
Sharon Cross

Thank you for all the support and kind words of encouragement that brought me to this point in my life. I look forward to, and I am honored to serve with, newly elected Department Commander Paul Hassing, SAL Detachment Commander John Weiss, American Legion Riders Director Jody Hassing and the Honorary Department Junior Auxiliary President Taylor McElroy.

Thank you to everyone that said yes when asked to be a chairman or a committee member. I see a lot of fun and laughter in our future with 1st Vice President Judy Ackerman and 2nd Vice President Robin Dorf. All three of us were Junior members that are now your department leadership.

I have already enjoyed the opportunity to ride in the Hopkins Raspberry Festival Parade with the department leadership. I am an American Legion Rider, so as I write this, I am getting ready to participate in the 2023 Minnesota Legacy Run July 27-30 followed by the Junior Fun Weekend Aug. 4-6 at Legionville in Brainerd. Then the American Legion Family will be traveling to Charlotte, N.C., for the 104th National Convention Aug. 25-31.

My theme is “Be The One to Dance Into the Hearts of Veterans.”

My symbol is a ballet dancer dancing with her veteran. Let’s put the American Legion Family in the spotlight and record our history. Remember the Dr. Seuss book that is frequently a graduation gift “Oh The Places You’ll Go!”

Being part of the Minnesota American Legion Auxiliary and the large, long 6th District since I transferred in 1999, I have traveled more than I ever imagined. With more travels ahead.

This is a time in many of our veterans’ lives that they feel alienated because of PTSD. Educate your neighbors and other community members about the effects of PTSD and ways to be respectful of those who are facing it. There are many ways to assist those that are not as mobile as they used to be.

You can help around their house or their yard, pick up groceries, play cards or board games, make them dinner, or invite them to go to a community event. Many veterans may not have anyone to help them, so you can make a big difference in their lives. Be The One to start the conversation that just might save a life. Be The One to listen with an open mind, offer direction or assist to find help where needed.

So, turn up the lights, roll the camera and let’s take action. Work our programs, document and report “What We Do” so we can be in the spotlight for “Who We Are.”

Come join the fun and involve your children and grandchildren. Focus on our programs, be visible, be branded. Let’s make The American Legion and Auxiliary the volunteer organization that families want to belong to! Open the eyes of our communities to the bigger picture of Why We Matter!

Sharon Cross of Bemidji Unit 14 is the president of the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Her theme is “Be The One to Dance Into the Hearts of Veterans.”