Legion seeking new members
By By Connie Nowlin Managing editor
When Adolph 'Doc' Sutton Jr. went by the Atmore Chamber of Commerce to sign up the American Legion Post as a member, he asked Executive Director Emilie Mims if there was anything she needed.
Joking, she said yes, she needed the flagpole in front of the building painted.
Sutton took a look at the pole and decided that it was a project he could get done.
He contacted the JROTC chapter at the Escambia County High School and the next Saturday there were four members of the club out painting the pole.
"They were glad to do it," Sutton said. "They want to serve."
And while those young people are on the front end of their military careers, Sutton is a lot more familiar with those nearing the end of a career or retired from the military all together.
He has just taken over as the Commander of the American Legion Post 90.
And he is on a mission to tell the area's veterans what the organization can do for them.
"The American Legion is an organization of retired military who have served their country at various times in the nation's history," he explained. "The purpose is for the benefit of the military personnel. We take care of our own."
Sutton said the American Legion has worked for and gotten benefits for military, like the GI education bill, and the VA home purchase program.
He said veterans can contact the Legion to see what benefits they are entitled to. The post has its own veterans affairs officer, Mike Hanks.
"We also sponsor things the public may not be aware of," Sutton said. "Like American Legion baseball and softball, an oratorical contest and an essay contest with patriotic themes. They award scholarships to schools in Alabama."
Sutton said there were other services the American Legion happily renders, such as attending funeral services for veterans and visiting at the retirement home in Bay Minette.
The group is political in a sense, because it lobbies for bills and to have dollars allocated to its causes, but it does not endorse any political candidates.
The American Legion meets in the Billy Glenn Rushing Post on Main Street, on the ground floor. Meetings are on the second Monday, are not mandatory and last about an hour.
The Legion also holds a dance in the building four Saturday nights a month. The dances are open to anyone, member or not, and there is a $5 fee. A live band plays mainstream music, and the atmosphere is casual.
Right now the group is undertaking a project in getting the old neon sign from the building operational again.
Sutton's mission is to get more members, especially from the Vietnam era and younger.
People join, Sutton said, for companionship, but mostly because after a lifetime of service to their country, they are like the youngsters who painted the flagpole.
They just want to serve.