On Thursday, February 3, Charles E. Murray Post 186 of the American Legion presented $500 checks to three high school students in recognition of their nomination as representatives to Boys State in Tallahassee. The three young men−Jacob Greene, Andre Brooks and Jordan Haripersad−are seniors at Springstead High School. As student representatives to Boys State, they meet with state legislators and get a taste of how our government works. They also participate in activities such as mock legislative sessions and court proceedings. The American Legion Auxiliary sponsors a parallel program for young women.
This year’s participants have clearly defined educational goals and are already thinking about career paths. Jacob Greene plans to go to either Florida Tech in Melbourne or the University of Central Florida (UCF). He wants to major in Aerospace Engineering.
“I chose this field because I’ve always wanted to go into space. My first ride in a plane and looking down at everything from the sky, I think it would be awesome to see the whole world [this way].”
Both Jacob and Andre have been members of Air Force ROTC for the past four years. Andre plans to go to UCF, major in Criminal Justice and then join the Air Force after he graduates.
“I chose Criminal Justice because it’s an area that needs focus on given everything that’s going on in the world,” Andre said.
Besides their common ROTC membership, Jacob and Andre find math to be their favorite subject in school. Jacob favors geometry, trigonometry and calculus, while Andre likes calculus best.
Jordan Haripersad plans to attend either Stetson, Jacksonville University or the University of North Florida. He wants to major in music education or elementary education.
“I enjoy working with kids. Seeing how my teachers affected me I want to spark the same passion in learning that my teachers once did for me. A lot of kids don’t enjoy learning so I want to find a way to inspire that passion.”
Jordan plays flute, saxophone and several other instruments. Along with Band his favorite subject in school is language arts.
On hand to present the checks was Paul Dillard, National Commander of the American Legion. Dillard travels to all fifty states, as well as some foreign countries, visiting posts.
The national headquarters advocates before congress regarding veterans’ issues. Some of these include improving health care for women veterans; helping veterans, especially those from minority groups, obtain their military medals that were never awarded to them; aiding immigrants who served in the military honorably to obtain American citizenship; and working to get the Coast Guard included in the Veterans Affairs budget. Right now they’re under the Department of Homeland Security and don’t get as many perks as the other military branches.
Post 186 was named after Charles E. Murray, a WWII veteran who served in the Army Air Force as a flight engineer on a B-17. Murray was instrumental in moving their headquarters from the Hwy. 19 location and helping to purchase their current building at 12091 Cortez Blvd.
Besides programs such as Boys State and Girls State, the post also helps fund a number of worthy causes. For example, the Auxiliary raises money to provide personal and home items, such as food and paper products to needy families. At Christmas they purchase gifts for people, especially children, in need.
Post 186 also sponsors service projects that exemplify the 4 Pillars of the American Legion–Americanism, Children & Youth, National security and Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation. For example, each year the post gives scholarships to high school seniors. It also supports Junior ROTC programs−Navy and Air Force− at two local high schools.
Regarding the ways in which the post supports veterans, the list is endless. They have a service officer who helps ex-service personnel get their benefits and an honor guard that attends funerals of veterans. Post 186 also donates to K9 Partners for Patriots, a local non-profit that provides service dogs to veterans with PTSD and other conditions. Members who are motorcyclists provide escorts for funeral processions to Florida National Cemetery at Bushnell.
The post currently has more than 2,000 members on the books, including the veterans, the auxiliary and the Sons of the American Legion (male relatives of veterans). Under the leadership of Post Commander Don Malin, First Vice Commander, Eileen Andrews; Auxiliary President, Lynda Anderson; and numerous board members, the organization has a full calendar of social activities.
“The public is welcome to most of these activities, we just ask that they sign in as our guest,” states Andrews.
The post has a full kitchen and bar that’s open for lunch and dinner. Every Friday there’s a fish fry. There’s a pool table and other lounge games. On Friday evenings, there’s Karaoke and on Saturdays live entertainment. Other activities include senior baseball games, cards, raffles and “Steak Shoots.”
This Sunday, the post will have a Super Bowl Party featuring a buffet dinner for $5.00.
To join the American Legion you must be an honorably discharged veteran or an active duty member of the military, reserves or National Guard. To become a member of the Auxiliary or Sons of the American Legion you need to be related to someone who has served or is serving in the military.
For more information on American Legion Charles E. Murray Post 186 go to: http://www.flpost186.org/ or call 352-597-9995. You can also follow them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Charles-E-Murray-American-Legion-Post-186-109044488178154