American Legion convention underway in Brookings

American Legion convention underway in Brookings
The American Legion Department of South Dakota is holding its 88th Annual State Convention in Brookings June 15-18. Members of The American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary and Sons of The American Legion (SAL) began arriving in Brookings on Thursday, June 15.

It is anticipated that between 450-500 members of The American Legion family will attend the conventions. The three organizations which comprise The American Legion family will all hold separate committee meetings and general assembly business sessions, but will join forces for memorial services, banquets and other social events.

The American Legion is holding its general assembly business sessions in the Bell Auditorium of the Brookings High School while the Auxiliary and SAL will hold their functions at the Brookings Inn.

The leadership of all three organizations will change as outgoing state commander of The American Legion Phil Anderson of Piedmont, state president of the Auxiliary Marsha Boyd of Watertown and SAL Detachment Commander Steve Hicks of Martin all turn over their positions to new leadership following elections on Sunday, June 18.

Highlights of the four-day convention will include visits by the national president of The American Legion Auxiliary, Carol Van Kirk of Nebraska; national membership director of The American Legion, Billy Johnson of Indianapolis; and the leading candidate for national commander of The American Legion, Paul Morin of Massachusetts.

The American Legion will recognize newly elected 2006 Boys State Governor Sam Merkle of Aberdeen, 2006 American Legion High School Oratorical Champion Brittany Holzbauer of Wagner, 2006 American Legion Eagle Scout of the Year Christopher Weisser of Wagner, 2006 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Daryl VanDover of Aberdeen, 2006 Firefighter of the Year Glenn Sealey of Colome, 2006 Educator of the Year Shari Sunne of Valley Springs and 2006 Legislator of the Year State Sen. Clarence Kooistra of Garretson.

The American Legion will announce the selection of the South Dakota American Legion Department Legionnaire of the Year and the 2006 recipient of the Robert C. Gabrielson Memorial Leadership Award during the general assembly session on Saturday, June 17.

Outgoing State Commander Phil Anderson of Piedmont will present numerous membership, Americanism, history and journalism awards during the two-day general assembly sessions. Employment awards will be presented to Hardees of Milbank, Mistletoe Ranch � The Ultimate Christmas Store of Hill City and Woodland Cabinetry of Sisseton. These businesses are being recognized for their employment of the disabled, the veterans and the older workers.

During the convention, Legionnaires will hear from U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth, representatives from the offices of U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson and U.S. Sen. John Thune, Lt. Gov. Dennis Duagaard, and Colonel Keith Corbett, the assistant adjutant general of the South Dakota National Guard.

The organization will establish its legislative priorities for the upcoming year and draft resolutions to deal with a variety of issues dealing with Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation, Americanism, Children and Youth, National Defense and internal policies of the organization.

Gunner Baatrup of Huron, a member of the Legion Post at Virgil, is uncontested in his pursuit of the office of state commander of The South Dakota American Legion. Doris Ann Werlinger of Rapid City, a member of the Legion Auxiliary unit at Buffalo, is uncontested for the office of president of the South Dakota American Legion Auxiliary.

There is currently no announced candidate for the office of SAL Detachment Commander.

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