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Reno workshop attendees urged to remember the graves of their founders


The exhibit hall at the 99th National Convention featured many Centennial items from Emblem Sales. Photo by Lucas Carter/The American Legion

American Legion 100th Anniversary Observance Committee Chairman David Rehbein spent part of the 99th National Convention in Reno, Nev., in August scrubbing, polishing and trimming the grass around the grave of Thomas W. Miller, a World War I lieutenant colonel who helped found what would become the nation’s largest veterans organization in 1919.
The activity was followed by a ceremony attended by several national and state American Legion dignitaries. They placed centennial coins on Miller’s grave and planted a U.S. flag and an American Legion flag in the grass beside it.
The experience gave Rehbein, a past American Legion national commander, an idea. “I want to encourage posts all across the country and beyond to locate the grave of their first commander and see if it needs some attention,” he said. “If so, that’s a great post Centennial activity that doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or require a lot of travel. It’s also a great opportunity for the post to alert the local media and tell the story of its founding generation, which is also, in many cases, a World War I story that can be told during the time we are recognizing that centennial.”
Rehbein chaired the two 100th Anniversary workshops held for convention-goers in Reno on Aug. 21, and urged the attendees to research their post namesakes, also often a World War I story that can be told during the centennial window, as well as the many accomplishments of local Legionnaires over the last century.
He said more than 2,500 American Legion posts have begun profiles on the national Centennial website at www.legion.org/centennial. “We really want more posts to jump in and provide their histories online or finish up their profiles so that they can be shared with the public in their communities,” Rehbein said.
Other topics at the workshop included the introduction of the 100th Anniversary Media Toolkit; using post profiles to engage the community around a post; converting Centennial messaging into membership; Centennial committees; the latest on Centennial Legacy Runs and the 100th National Convention in Minneapolis next year; and more. A booth with materials and firsthand assistance by National Headquarters staff was stationed in the exhibit hall.