The ALA Stories blog series showcases positive American Legion Auxiliary experiences, thoughts, and ideas of ALA members. We hope these blog posts will inspire and encourage all who read them.
Guest blog by Carol Lofland
Member of American Legion Auxiliary Unit 71 in Pewaukee, Wis.
I have been an American Legion Auxiliary member now for 43 years. I am the daughter of a Vietnam War veteran, and now the wife of an Operation Desert Storm veteran. My father, Gordon Kelley, served in the U.S. Coast Guard. My husband, also named Gordon, served in the U.S. Army.
As a child, I enjoyed going with my mother to our ALA meetings. I would sit quietly and listen as [members] spoke, hopeful for my turn one day. That day came when I was 18, when I took on the presidency of our ALA unit.
It made me proud to want to bring new life to our unit. But by that time, there was much resentment within our unit, and the elder membership was burned out. I had no choice but to vote for closure of our unit [the first unit I ever joined]. The other women voted unanimously in agreement, and the unit disbanded. It left me sad, and I felt as if I had failed – not only in the unit’s eyes, but also in the eyes of my parents.
My mom and I went into a holding unit, and my dad went into a holding post, for many years. We were essentially inactive. Still, I always strive to take part in veteran events — be it a simple fundraising gathering, taking part in parades or attending funerals — to honor the great sacrifices our veterans and their families made for us all.
In 2004, I became the victim of domestic violence at the hands of my former spouse and nearly lost my life. It was through music and dance that I found myself once more. Now, you may ask, what does this have to do with the ALA?
Through my dance training, I have successfully led several fundraising events for local veterans organizations (Feed our Veterans and Horses for Heroes) and for local domestic violence shelters — raising funds plus awareness of their existence and their vital roles in our communities.
Carol and her father, Legionnaire and Vietnam War veteran Gordon Kelley, hold a banner in an Independence Day parade in West Allis, Wis., approximately 30 years ago.
I am still an ALA member. I’m in Auxiliary Unit 71 in Pewaukee, Wis. My membership is very important to me. The ALA does so very much to support our veterans, their families, and our communities. ALA programs are extremely vital and important. These events have just been one small way for me to honor those who have served and their families, and to live up to the ALA mission statement. It’s not about myself; it’s about doing for others.
The American Legion Auxiliary is a community of volunteers serving veterans, military, and their families. Our mission statement:
In the spirit of Service Not Self, the mission of the American Legion Auxiliary is to support The American Legion and honor the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of our veterans, military, and their families, both at home and abroad. For God and country, we advocate for veterans, educate our citizens, mentor youth, and promote patriotism, good citizenship, peace, and security.