I Am the ALA: Elaine Kotler

Posted On: Tuesday, 21 December 2021

Why did you join the American Legion Auxiliary? 
I wasn’t really aware the ALA existed. My father was a member of The American Legion. He joined a few years ago. My father was disabled, so one of the members would pick him up and take him to the meetings. Last year, my father took ill, and I kept reading about this buddy system. I contacted my father’s post and the commander there, Patrick, called my father every Monday. I was already doing things with my dad — taking him to the local elementary school every Veterans Day to talk to the kids there, and I would help him out to make a slideshow, and help him with that sort of thing. 
My father then passed away. Patrick and another member of the post came and had this beautiful service in the backyard where my father’s ashes were. Really got to know Patrick over the time. At the Veterans Day ceremony in the center of town, I dressed patriotically. Patrick came up to me at the war memorial in the town’s center and said, “I just so love your enthusiasm and patriotism. You really need to contact the unit president to join us.” That was really the first I had heard of [the ALA]. I joined, and I immediately started doing things. I was already doing things and now I can say I’m officially doing them as a member of the Auxiliary.
At the final ALA meeting with elections, I said I would be historian. I’m jumping right in there doing projects and helping out with veterans. 
What does your ALA membership mean to you?
It is showing that I love my country and I love helping anybody — past, current, future, and their families who served. I think there is little appreciation toward the families and helping with the understanding of that as that is also what the Auxiliary is about: the families. Being in the Auxiliary means to me making other people understand what service to our country means. 
In what ways did your father influence you to be patriotic? 
He never really talked too much about being a veteran. He didn’t really have true war stories; he didn’t see combat. He was a patriotic person and always had the flags around the yard. Any window you could see the flag. He always had that patriotism with him and the flags. I’m the same way. I have several flags and a patriotic display up in my yard. 
What are some ways you show your patriotism today?
The flag is always flying proud. As a science teacher, both in middle school and as an adjunct professor at a local community college, I’m trying to have my students also understand. We do a service project every year. I want the kids to understand there is a world outside of us. [Military members] make sacrifices, leave their families. We made cards, thanking for your service. They enjoyed it. We got the feedback from the troops and got back the appreciation. When my father was away, you had to write letters home that could take months to get there. 
You are known for an outfit for every occasion. Can you share a little more about that?
This past school year, because the kids were only seeing so much on screen, every day, I put on my outfit and I would take a picture. I made a slideshow, “180 Days with Miss K.” Many were themes. Blue for kindness. The entire month of October I wore pink for breast cancer. The kids got to know me for it. It’s kind of my signature thing. I teach college too and did a video of myself and kept changing my outfit. A student can’t see me wear the same thing in the course of a year. With more patriotic holidays I’m dressing for, I will need more outfits for it. 
Any advice for other members who are new to the ALA?
My one thing for new members is to talk about how proud you are to be a new member. 
Unit 96 in West Hartford, Conn. 
Alvin Kotler, father (U.S. Army veteran)
YEARS IN THE ALA: Less than a year  
SHARE YOUR MEMBERSHIP STORY! Tell us about yourself and how you support the American Legion Auxiliary as a unit member who also loves the ALA’s mission of serving veterans, the military, and their families. Contact us at ALAMagazine@ALAforVeterans.org or (317) 569-4500.

ALA Mission

In the spirit of Service, Not Self, the mission of the American Legion Auxiliary is to support The American Legion and to 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.