North Suffolk post gets charter

Published 10:36 pm Thursday, February 12, 2009

Now it’s official.

The American Legion Nansemond Post 88 received its charter Sunday from American Legion Department Commander Les Clevinger, following months of work to set up a post in North Suffolk.

“It was a great evening and it was exciting to get to see and hold the official charter,” said Gerald Rhoads, post historian.

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The American Legion is non-profit service organization of wartime veterans. The Legion has approximately three million members in more than 15,000 posts worldwide — including a post in downtown Suffolk.

But last year residents in North Suffolk decided to try to create their own post, to help the communities in the northern end of the city.

Since holding the first organizational meeting, the post now has about 30 active members, who have begun launching a number of Legion programs, including the Flag Education program.

Through that program, members of the Legion visit elementary school students to discuss the importance and symbolism of the American flag. They also go over the pledge of allegiance word by word to help break down some of the bigger themes and ideas in the pledge.

“This is a very good program,” Rhoads said. “It’s well received by the teachers and the students. I think that age group is where we should be getting it right. We try to relate to them that there are a lot of little kids in this world who aren’t free.”

Rhoads has been participating in the flag program for years in other cities and has visited about half of Suffolk’s public schools.

In addition to the flag program, Rhoads said, Post 88 will work to start an oratorical competition in local high schools, which can lead to a high school student winning a $20,000 scholarship if he or she wins nationally. Members also will support students for Boys State participation – a weeklong program in which students learn more about local citizenship and government. They also plan to set up an American Legion baseball team for players 14 to 17 years old.

“This is what we want to do,” Rhoads said. “We want to get more involved with our community, but you’ve got to walk before you run.”

Anyone interested in joining the American Legion can attend the post’s monthly meetings held every second Sunday of the month at 7 p.m. at Fire Station Number 5 on Route 17. To become a member, one must have honorably served during a period of declared conflict.