Heading to D.C. in February? We’ll see you there!

If a visit to our nation’s capitol is on your itinerary in February 2017, more than likely you’ll run across members of The American Legion Family. If you see people in crescent-shaped red, black, white and gold hats, take a moment to thank them for their service. They’re among our members who served in the military.

For nearly 100 years, members of The American Legion Family have been heading to D.C. , steadfast in carrying out a mission to advocate for veterans. Take a look at seven of the top reasons why members of the American Legion Auxiliary join this important trip to Washington, D.C. each year — and why it still matters.

1. To make a difference in the lives of veterans. The American Legion has an advocacy record that has generated real change for veterans, including lobbying that led to the creation of the U.S. Veterans Bureau in 1921, the forerunner of today’s Veterans Affairs; the GI Bill of Rights in 1944; the formation of the U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals in 1989; and, more recently, the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2008, and the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform Act of 2009. The Legion Family can be unrelenting in pushing for change that leads to results.

2. To honor and pay our respects to veterans. As fitting of the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., has the most war memorials in the United States, making it among the top reasons more than 18 million people visit it each year. And for ALA members attending DC Conference, the trip provides the opportunity to make a personal connection with those who served our country. Every year, ALA members hold a wreath-laying ceremony at one of those memorials.

3. Recognize those who inspire others. In keeping with another ALA tradition, members gather for the prestigious annual ALA Public Spirit Award Luncheon to honor inspirational people and corporations who move others to action on behalf of veterans and military servicemembers.

4. Learn how to better serve our veterans. No ALA conference, convention, or meeting would be complete without members challenging themselves on how to better carry out their mission to meet the needs of our nation’s veterans, military, and their families. As part of the DC Conference, members gather in sessions and breakout workshops to hear from guest speakers on numerous topics.

5. Get inspired. It’s not unusual for attendees to shed a few tears at some point during the meeting. They hear from members and nonmembers who share heartfelt stories about how they’re connecting with those who serve our country.

6. Support a worthy cause. Another long-lasting tradition for the DC Conference is the Parade of Checks, in which departments nationwide present the ALA national president with donations to support her chosen cause — such as scholarships for children of military servicemembers.

7. Remember that we live in a great country with a rich history. Members leave with the confidence that we live in a country that makes it possible for the voices of individual people to be heard.

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