To the editor:
May I respond to the May 25 article about the loss of membership in veterans organizations nationally and the May 26 article regarding the American Legion Memorial Day Ceremony at the Oak Hill Cemetery. Two points need to be made; one is of perception and the other, a correction.
With regard to the loss of membership, the author was short-sighted and paints a discouraging picture of these groups. He reviewed the veteran groups in the Des Moines, Iowa, area and expanded his results to include the entire nation. The drop in membership in some areas might simply be a matter of changing demographics. Up in some locales and down in others. Nationally, the American Legion membership has remained stable for the past several years at over 3 million. In 1942, national membership totaled 3,115,340, and it remains at 3 million plus to this day. Locally, Post No. 14 (Dorsey-Liberty) membership has remained fairly stable in the 750 range for the past several years. Ideally, we would like to have more veterans join, especially those of Desert Storm and the Panama and Grenada hostilities. We have an able and willing membership. Legionnaires have always come forth whenever our activities required them to do so. I'm sure the citizens of Lawrence are aware of the many community and patriotic activities carried out by our Post.
Now the correction. The 289 flags set on the Avenue of Flags at the Oak Hill Cemetery represent veterans who died, not Legionnaires who died. They need not be buried at the Oak Hill Cemetery. The Avenue of Flags project began in 1972, not World War II, as noted in the article. The flags placed on the Avenue of Flags can include any veteran honorably discharged. Just bring in the flag that draped the coffin, or received for that purpose, and we will identify it to the deceased and place it in a designated spot on the avenue. We ask for a donation of $35 to cover the cost of the pole and the concrete setting. I believe the Avenue of Flags, along with the Memorial Day ceremony give visual testimony to the sacrifices made by veterans in defense of liberty.
Leo Langlois, commander,
Dorsey-Liberty Post No. 14.