I joined the American Legion post here many years ago and subsequently have pursued many things to honor veterans, both local and national, for their service to our country.  Over those years, this particular post has done many things that have also honored veterans, but have also done many things to amaze me with their disregard and disrespect of that service.  Itís time our community knows of some of this as well.  

About 8 years ago I proposed that our post put a box in front of the building to receive worn out flags.  I sent out press releases under the name of our commander and flags started coming to us in quantity.  Our plan was to host a public ceremony on Flag Day from time to time and destroy them with the respect they deserve, something that is even stated on the postís website on their misspelled www.jhal.org/Flagettiquette.htm page.  But, year after year, I reminded the commander who said weíd have a ceremony, but, we never did.  Eventually, hundreds of flags disappeared from storage in the basement.  Still, no ceremony ever took place.  I was eventually told that the commander supposedly burned them in someoneís back yard.  The American Legion at the national level has proposed a flag amendment to the Constitution of the U.S.  There is a public law known as the U.S. Flag Code that governs how our flag is to be respected and displayed, but, this Legion post has two flags (albeit well-intended) that are displayed at the front door of the building that are in direct violation of that code which is posted on their website.  When I brought that to the attention of the post recently, a person I thought to be a friend, referred to my protestations per an old military term, as ďChicken s---,Ē but, itís specifically on their own website.  I see these things as a slap in the face to locals who wanted to do the right thing in giving us their flags for honorable destruction.  

And, itís personal.  When I was trying recently to email members to help put on a showing of a patriotic film at the Center for the Arts, the post adjutant responded with an email, that I was fraudulently soliciting local churches on behalf of the Legion post for needy veterans, in effect, castigating anyone at the post who might want to help put on this film.  It was and is, a total lie and insults my name and credibility regarding veteransí issues in this area.  Even though one of the people they said I solicited at St. Johnís Episcopal church told the adjutant that it was totally untrue, they will not retract the email.  I suggested if they have some fictitious proof, they should file charges against me, but they have not.  Iíd like to know what other churches I have supposedly tried to defraud and why they would lie about me this way.  

Some years ago, we had a member who was working for the post, who did misappropriate funds from the post.  We chose not to file charges, but decided to no longer allow him to represent us even though no restitution was made.  Last Veterans Day, that person came to the post and was invited by the commander to honor other veterans by participating in the color guard detail on the town square.  No one at the post objected, but I donít see how this respects other veterans or locals who attend those ceremonial occasions.  

And, this is the same commander that physically assaulted me on Broadway in front of the Wort Hotel during a Memorial Day parade, because I was engaged in my Constitutional right of protest when I thought vice-president Cheney would be in attendance, regarding the disgraceful Iraq war the Cheney/Bush administration started which has resulted in the deaths of over 4200 Americans.  We talked about that once and he even apologized for his actions, but in retrospect, his sincerity appears to have been lacking.  He has since stalked me on another street and engaged in intimidation on several occasions.  My point being that you certainly donít have to agree with my opinions, but to be in uniform and assault another Legion member when we took an oath in joining the nationís military to uphold the Constitution, is hardly the action of a patriotic Legion commander.  

When the post, and I was on the buildingís restoration committee, wanted the community to contribute to us at Old Billís and to our historic building, we wanted to help raise funds by selling ďWe Support Our TroopsĒ car magnets.  When I proposed that a small portion of those sales go to something that actually supported our troops, the post voted that down.  

These and a number of other issues, do a disservice to the image of veterans in Jackson.  You can read about them on my webpage at www.theastrocowboy.com/WALP43.htm .  If you think they are still worthy of your respect, donate to them at Old Billís or however you see fit.  If not, I suggest you consider contacting the national office (re my webpage for info) and advise them of your disappointment in this post and its leadership.  Iíve tried at national which told me to contact the state office, which told me they had no authority!  They advised it had to be addressed locally, which I tried, but was told to shut up at the meeting.  You can imagine the response this letter is going to bring. I have tried to address these issues in a civil manner, but to no avail.  I will not stand by and have my name and works for veterans maligned.  I just ask you to consider these and the other issues addressed on the webpage, and ask yourselves if this is the kind of veteransí organization that represents the spirit of our community.  Right now Iíd suggest, itís not even close.  

Walt Farmer