Team 100 is a concept to draw on our timeless principles, reload and fire them into a second century of service to community, state and nation.
The American Legion began with a vision that has withstood the test of time. That vision was to strengthen America by improving the lives of veterans and their families, fighting for an effective system of defense, building community pride in our national identity and giving young people a foundation for future success.
The Legion’s founders had no idea how the century would unfold after their wartime service. No one at the time could have imagined that nuclear-powered aircraft carriers the size of cities would prowl the seas in the decades ahead. Jet aircraft, atomic bombs, night-vision goggles and aerial drones were pulp-fiction fantasies, as were television, satellites and the Internet. Future developments were unknowable then, as they are today at the cusp of a second American Legion century.
Yet the central elements of the founding vision – veterans, defense, patriotism and youth – continue to prove essential to national strength. Such was the genius that gave America the GI Bill, VA health care, a flag code, modern reserve forces and youth programs that promote justice, freedom, democracy, discipline and sportsmanship.
Team 100 is my theme because it’s our centennial year. But it is not a flashy slogan meant to come and go after membership target dates are hit. Team 100 is a concept to draw on our timeless principles, reload and fire them into a second century of service to community, state and nation. They apply today, as much as ever.
Regardless if a combat veteran came home blinded from mustard gas in France or brain-injured by an IED in Afghanistan, The American Legion is needed to step in and fight on his or her behalf, provide comfort and assistance in the transition to a new and changed life. If not the Legion, who else can be nearly as effective?
Our nation is strongest when the military is properly trained, resourced and respected. The American Legion has worked tirelessly to elevate the honorable nature of military service, and argued to build a defense system that can just as capably rescue tsunami victims in Japan as it can stop terrorists in Iraq. Who can call for military strength with more integrity than those of us who have worn the uniform?
Young people succeed when mentors help them become productive citizens, contributors and leaders. This belief has produced tens of thousands of public servants, from homeless-shelter volunteers to top elected officials. If not us, who provides American Legion youth programs of the future?
The pride and indivisibility represented by the colors of our country, a flag that had unclear and largely unfollowed rules of respect prior to The American Legion, is a lesson we, as veterans, are uniquely qualified to deliver. If not us, who stands for our flag and all it means?
And in times of natural disaster, we who know the value of calm teamwork in emergencies are well suited to advance recovery.
Team 100 is not an end. It’s a new beginning that must be guided and populated by others like us, veterans of a new generation, as we all once were, who believe in the importance of a strong America.