When I joined the American Legion Auxiliary (ALA), I hit the ground running because there were so many accomplishments that needed to be added to the list of great things already done. Our team (members) was tired, frustrated, but hopeful. One year later, I became the unit president. I was barely elected for a position that I really did not know much about, but I knew deep down in my heart, with the American Legion Family behind me, we could save what was lost and make a great impact on such a wonderful organization. Unfortunately, for me, there was no formal training, no manuals handed down; as a matter of fact, some leaders left and did not support me in this new role that I knew very little about. However, I managed to find a way by using the knowledge that I had acquired over the years while familiarizing myself with the online tools that the ALA provided. Am I perfect? No, however, I am striving for perfection and I am making many mistakes along the way. My goal is to be the best I can be and then pass the baton to other generations that have the qualifications to lead and not just based on tenure. Please note that I think tenure is great, however, this does not mean that one can effectively perform the duties of a leader.
As I listen to the plethora of highlighted political views on FOX, MSNBC, CNN, and a host of other media and social media outlets, concerning the President of the United States (POTUS), Donald Trump; I realize that people can be extremely insensitive of a leader that has no background in the area in which he/she serves. Do I agree with everything POTUS say, do, or tweet? No, however, I do admire his tough armor in handling those who want him to fail, those who are jocking for positions, those who, apparently, do not have his best interest in mind, and those that scrutinize every mistake that he makes (Republicans, Democrats, Independents, etc.) as a new unlearned political leader in a new political position, not the old real estate entrepreneur. This recipe of spectators, naysayers, those who critique every jot and tittle, biases, prejudice, nonconstructive criticism and the small percentage of those that are really rooting for POTUS to succeed, are all placed in a pot together and the finished product, that is supposed to be good for all, has been contaminated, thereby causing many to go hungry for the great leadership they were hoping to encounter. We all may not agree but we must all respect.
Going to college in my forties was a big step for me. After quitting school, at the age of sixteen, my only hopes was to get a decent paying job and to take good care of my family. At the age of forty four, I approached the registrar at Southern University at Shreveport (SUSLA), and told her that I wanted to apply for college. She asked me for my official transcript from high school, highlighting my overall GPA and my SAT/ACT scores. WOW! What in the blankety, blank, blank is a blankety, blank, blank "OFFICIAL" transcript, SAT/ACT, and for Pete's sake, an "OVERALL" GPA.? The look on my face was priceless because those acronyms were giving me the blues. For me SAT could have meant " Stop Acting Thuggish" and ACT could have meant "A College Tuition". She began to laugh, but for me it was not so funny. She didn't understand that my life only consisted of making ends meet, however, she didn't realize that "Making ends Meet" was like me and my daddy, we hardly ever met (Hurricane, 2008). She then asked me, "How do you plan on going to college without a high school diploma?" My response was just as shocking as my confession. "I don't know," I responded, "but I do know that I would like to attend." Almost immediately, I went from making 75k annually to making 15k annually working a part time job and as a Federal Student worker in the history department of SUSLA.
To make a long story short, she sent me to the testing center to take an accuplacer test and to my surprise, my score was so high that it warranted me a spot in a calculus class. Boy, I was excited until I realized what calculus really was and meant... For me it was a math from a different world, like 'PLUTOURANEUSSATURNMERCURYJUPITAR' all wrapped in one. In order to learn more about college jargon and way of life, I joined every club on campus so that I could be consistent, persistent and disciplined at what I was there to do, graduate with a degree and to become a great leader added to the fold.
A few years later, I graduated Magna cum Laude and in December 2017, I anticipate graduating with my Masters in Public Administration and will be entered into the PhD program. I have earned National Leadership awards and have helped shape and build several other organizations. I also have been big and bad enough to teach Latin. Funny huh? However, my drive to be my best, at everything, could not be have been achieved without great teams (teachers, leaders, encourage-rs, counselors, etc.). Because of this excitement and dedication, the American Legion Auxiliary National Headquarters producer, Joh Paulsel, will be interviewing me and the Emanuel L. Young Family on Wednesday, June 14th at 10:00 am. Our team is very excited!
Former Secretary Hillary Clinton was my choice for the White House, however, she is not my president, Donald Trump is. With that being said, we must respect the majority choice of the American people (In spite of how we feel about the tampering). The way we respect POTUS is by realizing that he came to the Whitehouse, without any type of political background, and he is utilizing knowledge from his previous experiences to "Make America Great Again" and the mistakes that he is making or will make in the future, is to be expected. Shaping policy on behalf of millions of citizens requires more than just a conversation. It requires TEAMWORK!This illustration is just a metaphor to help one understand that we may dislike the person in charge but we must respect the office.
When you want change in any organization, be supportive of those that are elected to lead. Talking about all the mistakes they have made will not make things better, it only makes things worse. So, instead of being a problem to the problem be a solution to the problem. My desire is to be a great leader, not for myself, but for those I serve. Whether young or old, please respect the position because we believe in our mission... Whether it's for the POTUS or a leader of the American Legion Family, this is for "God and Country" as we associate ourselves together for the following purposes: To uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America... "In the Spirit of Service not Self!" #alaforveterans
Author: Sylvia Chess
The American Legion was chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization devoted to mutual helpfulness. It is the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization, committed to mentoring youth and sponsorship of wholesome programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security, and continued devotion to our fellow service members and veterans.