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American Legion officials visit Fairmount

ON TOUR: American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad greets members of American Legion Post 313 in Fairmount after his arrival on Tuesday.

By Clay Winowiecki - cwinowiecki@chronicle-tribune.com

FAIRMOUNT – National and state officers of the American Legion came to American Legion Post 313, Tuesday afternoon.

The visit took place on a state-wide tour titled "Operation: Race to 100." The four-day tour is organized by the American Legion Department of Indiana and will visit each of the 11 districts of the American Legion in Indiana.

The tour aims to raise awareness of the mission of the American Legion organization and to mark 100 years of American Legion history. The tour also provides an opportunity for national and state level American Legion leadership to visit with local legion leaders and the community. National and state officials wanted to give local officers a chance to discuss any potential concerns.

In attendance was National Commander Brett Reistad, National Auxiliary President Kathy Dungan and State Commander Rodney Strong, among others.

"It's just been a wonderful experience to do this," Reistad said. "Every place I've gone has been very welcoming to us. The posts have gone above and beyond the call of duty to show up with the best that they have. This is where the rubber meets the road at the local posts."

"I wanted to travel around and let them know how much we appreciate what they do and give them a sounding board, too," Reistad added. "It's just a wonderful feeling and a great experience to be able to come out and actually visit a post other than my own and see how they function and how they serve the community."

At each post Reistad has visited on his tour, he has been greeted by townspeople, legionnaires and politicians, he said.

An entourage of 10 Legion Riders, a firetruck, police car and eight SUVs brought the officials to the post.

"We don't get this very often, so to have all this it's quite an honor," said Jerry Haisley, commander of Post 313. "I know a lot of state officers, but we never get the national officers."

For a small post such as 313, it is rare to get a national official to visit, according to Haisley.

"We have one of our members on the national executive committee and he had a little pull, and I assume that's how we got him in here," Haisley said.

"It's quite an honor for an itty bitty post like Fairmount," said Mike Havens, a former commander of the Post 313. "It's small compared to at least half of the posts in the state, but it's a very active post so we probably get a few more visits than most people."

It has been five or six years since the last visit by major officials, according to Havens.

“I think it’s exciting, and it lets the local area know the role of the national commander and see somebody that is the highest official in the American Legion,” said David Burnette, 5th District commander.