American Legion hosts convention

Published 1:28 pm Wednesday, July 21, 2021

By G. MARK LaFRANCIS

Special to The Democrat

NATCHEZ — The American Legion kicked off the statewide convention Friday in Natchez. More than 75 Legionnaires converged on the city to conduct business.

Representatives from nine Legion districts around Mississippi held opening ceremonies at the Natchez Convention Center for the 102nd Annual Legion Convention and the 100th Annual Legion Auxiliary Convention.

Steve Nielsen, past commander of American Legion Post 4 in Natchez, said, “It’s great for Natchez to have people from all over the state here and see the improvements … because it (the convention) has been here in the past. They get to see the town growing and improving over the last couple of years.”

State Commander James Till described the American Legion mission, “We’ve got the four pillars:  Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation, National Security, Americanism, and Children & Youth. Each of these pillars encompasses a variety of programs that benefit our nation’s veterans, its service members, their families, the youth of America, and ordinary citizens.”

Till said, “We’ve got some very good programs…we’ve got oratorical events with young people speaking on the aspects of the Constitution; we have scholarships; we have Boys State and Girls State … that is one of our biggest programs … we have American Legion Baseball. Another program is the American Legion Riders who escort veterans who have died to the cemetery.”

Till added, ‘Coming to Natchez means a lot. We’ve been coming here for about 10 years now. Natchez is very nice to us.”

Mayor Dan Gibson said to the Legionnaires, “We are blessed to have you here in Natchez … I believe you are the greatest generation along with that greatest generation (that fought in World War II). … We have much to be grateful for as Americans and we owe it all to you.”

The Mississippi American Legion is comprised of close to 10,000 veterans. The convention consisted of a variety of reports from around Mississippi, election of officers, financial reports and planning meetings.