The ALA Stories blog series showcases positive American Legion Auxiliary experiences, thoughts, and ideas of ALA members. We hope these blog posts will inspire and encourage all who read them.
Differences don’t have to divide people, especially when individuals unite under a shared selfless mission of helping others. Just ask American Legion Auxiliary member Denise Holmes, and her fellow Auxiliary members, of ALA Unit 199 in West Palm Beach, Fla. Holmes is the only white person who belongs to Unit 199. Her fellow ALA members there are black.
“I never worry about being racially different from everyone else in our unit. Each of us is there for the same reasons. We all want to honor and help our veterans and their families, and do positive things in our community. Unit 199 is a group of good people. I never have pressure to do something to impress everybody or try to fit in; I already fit in. And I have always felt welcomed in our group,” said Holmes, who has been a member of Unit 199 since 2004.
Unit 199 President Elizabeth P. Robinson said she appreciates Holmes for her many positive attributes as a person, and as an ALA member.
“Denise is an awesome person. She is among the first in our unit to say, ‘Here’s what I can do to help.’ Denise is here to serve, to follow the same mission and vision as the rest of us. We’re united because we want to make the lives of veterans and military families better, and we want to work with our Legionnaires,” Robinson added.
Holmes learned about the ALA from several ladies at the AME (African Methodist Episcopal) church she has been attending for years. They invited her to a meeting at Unit 199 so she could learn more about the American Legion Auxiliary. She liked what she saw and heard, and she became a member.
“When I joined, I felt that things just flowed. It still does. I love it. It’s touching to see people doing something to honor veterans. They sacrificed a lot. And it’s not just the person in the military. It’s their spouse, their children, their parents, their siblings. Helping and honoring all of them is a worthy cause. I wanted to be part of that,” she said.
“Unless they dissolve Unit 199, I don’t see myself at another unit. I like this unit. I’m comfortable here. And when you go where you’re comfortable, you get things done together,” she added.
Holmes joined the ALA under the military service of her father, U.S. Army veteran George M. Thompson, who served during the mid-1940s. She has other relatives who served in our nation’s military, including an uncle; a grandfather; and her husband, U.S. Air Force veteran Eddie H. Holmes, Jr., who served in the Korean War. Three of her husband’s sons also served in the military.
The American Legion Auxiliary is a community of volunteers serving veterans, military, and their families. Our mission statement:
In the spirit of Service Not Self, the mission of the American Legion Auxiliary is to support The American Legion and 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.
Interested in becoming an American Legion Auxiliary member or volunteer? To learn more, visit www.ALAforVeterans.org or contact an American Legion Auxiliary unit near you.