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Legacy Run Day 2: A chance to show appreciation for fellow veterans

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Vietnam War veteran Zackey Sanders has been a member of The American Legion for 30 years, most recently as senior vice commander of American Legion Post 237 in Hardwick, Ga.

For the past “three to four years,” Sanders has been a resident of the Georgia War Veterans Home, a part of the Georgia Department of Veterans Service, in Milledgeville, Ga. On Aug. 19, he and other residents stood or sat outside the home, holding flags and waiting in anticipation for their visitors: members of The American Legion Riders taking part in the 2019 Legacy Run.

The Day 2 stop allowed the Legion Riders to meet and talk with the home’s residents. For Sanders, it was hard to put into words what the visit meant to him.

“It means the world to me,” Sanders said. “It makes you feel special. I get choked up. It means so much to us here at the home. It makes us feel great to know that we’re still remembered … for what we did.”

Sharon Sculthorpe, a part of the Run’s advance team and a member of American Legion Post 325 in Danville, Va., said the home’s residents need to know they are not forgotten.

“Veterans are all a big family,” she said. “We certainly want them to know how much we appreciate their service, how much we appreciate their sacrifices, how much we appreciate everything they’ve done for this country, and that no matter what they’ve always got family.

“Coming here today and getting to talk to them today and put a smile on their face – I love talking to them and hearing their stories. It’s just like they’re still a part (of the military) and we’re still a part, and together we’re all still one big military family. They know they’re not forgotten.”

Russell Feagin, director of the Health and Memorials Division at the Georgia War Veterans Home, said it was an honor for the Riders to stop at the home.

“The veterans appreciate people stopping by to see them, recognizing their service,” Feagin said, adding that organizations like The American Legion can help the veterans in the home. “State funds and federal funds tend to be limited … because of the small population, percentage-wise, of people who are veterans. The legislators look at other things as being more important. Unless they’re reminded – like rides like this that bring to the forefront the veterans that are there in the population – it’s too easy to say ‘we need something else’ than it is to remember our veterans.”

The veterans home is located next to the Milledgeville VA Clinic, which is part of the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center. For Department of Georgia Senior Vice Commander Mark Shreve, the visit by the American Legion Riders to the home hit home.

“I have a significant connection here. My mother-in-law used to be the director of the VA hospital here,” said Shreve, a member of Post 189 in Harris County. “One of the things that she always had told me, even before I joined The American Legion, was how much the Legion meant to this (home). So when they come in today and they meet, what it really says … (is) how much (the Riders) care about our veterans. They really care about our veterans.”

Shreve said stops like Monday’s and others throughout Georgia bring strong brand awareness to the Legion. “Not only for the visibility of The American Legion, but it helps send the right message,” he said. “We’re here to help veterans, help their families. They’re riding through for a great cause, and to me that’s exactly what we’re supposed to be doing.”

Rousing reception. Paul E. Bolding American Legion Post 7, sitting lakeside on 28 beautiful acres in Gainesville, Ga., opened up its doors to the ride for its evening stop. There, awaiting the Riders, were cadets from nearby Riverside Military Academy, lining the street while saluting and holding U.S. flags.

Founded in 1907, the academy has enjoyed a strong 100-year relationship with Post 7, which was chartered in 1919. “In 100 years you can get to know a neighbor pretty well,” Academy Executive Vice President Britt Daniel said. “I’m happy to report that Post 7 has been a great neighbor. We are proud to know you.”

The Riders were able to dine on Chick-fil-A boxed dinners during their visit to the post. Calvin Sneed, Post 7’s commander, said a request to host the Legacy Run stop resulted in a quick decision.

“I said we’d be proud to honor that event,” he said. “It’s a lot to it. It is an honor to have the Legacy (Run) here. It’s unreal.”

Gainesville also proclaimed Aug. 19 American Legion Legacy Run Day.

Reistad’s ride. National Commander Brett Reistad rode the first two days of the Legacy Run on the back of the motorcycle, braving rain and heat. Reistad remembered meeting up with the ride and then-National Commander Dan Dellinger during the 2014 Legacy Run, when rain plagued the ride throughout the first three days.

“I can remember seeing them take their helmets off and there was water just dripping outside of them,” Reistad said.

The rain that hit this year’s ride hasn’t bothered Reistad. “I’ve been wet before. I’ll be wet again,” he said. “I appreciate the opportunity to see it from the front of the Run. Sometime in the next couple of days I hope to get toward the back and see it all in front of me.”

Moments like the Monday stop to honor a Gold Star family and U.S. military KIA are what make the ride – and those on it – special. “That’s what The American Legion is all about,” Reistad said. “To do something like that along the way, and to make the family of the fallen servicemember feel as though he is still thought of and appreciated obviously meant a lot to the family.”


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ALWS Game 13: Fargo Post 2 clinches first-ever title game appearance for North Dakota

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Fargo, N.D., Post 2 will be the first team from the state of North Dakota to ever play in the American Legion World Series championship game after defeating Destrehan, La., Post 366 in the first national semifinal of 2019.

Fargo, N.D., Post 2 woke up Monday with a 1-1 record in pool play, fighting desperately for a spot to advance. A win in the suspended Game 11, a favorable result in Game 12 to seal a runner-up spot in the Stripes pool and an 11-4 win in the Game 13 puts Fargo into Tuesday’s national title game at 6:30 p.m., on ESPNews.

North Dakota got hits from eight of its starters in the balanced effort.

In the top of the first, Zach Sandy was hit by a pitch and Zach Kluvers hit a double to send him to third. A wild pitch and a single by Cole Hage brought both home. Fargo loaded the bases with a pair of singles, but second baseman Gavin Freeman made a fantastic stop to keep the ball in the infield to prevent a run. One pitch later, Josh MacCord induced a double play to end the threat.

In the bottom of the third, the rain came for the second time in as many days with Fargo on the field. The delay was just under three-and-a-half hours.

Fargo got two quick outs in the bottom of the third but Louisiana got singles from TJ Thomas and Gavin Freeman and a walk to Nick Lorio to load the bases. Cory Cook dropped a looping single to left-center to bring home two and tie the game. Destrehan had multiple near-misses down the left field line including two hard-hit balls destined for the corner that just fell foul.

Fargo had its own two-out rally in the top of the fourth with two outs surrounding a walk to Chandler Ibach. Zach Sandy doubled and third base coach Lucas Rustad wisely held up Ibach at the last second to set up runners on second and third with two outs. Kluvers, Cole Hage, Blake Anderson and Brayden Koenig all hit the ball hard on the ground to reach base in consecutive plate appearances to bring home three more runs and make the score 6-2.

North Dakota added two more to their lead in the fifth when a Kluvers double down the left field line fell just between the line and a diving defender, scoring Caden Headlee and Zach Sandy.

In the bottom of the fifth, the first four batters walked for Louisiana to bring a run home, but two big outs by Austin Manuel nearly stymied the threat. Ron Franklin had a clutch single to bring one more home to make the lead 8-4 before Manuel worked out of the threat.

With a runner on first in the top of the sixth, Brandt Kolpack ripped a double, Drew Sandy walked and Ibach skied a ball over the retreating right fielder to bring home two more Fargo runs. A wild pitch brought home another run, giving the game its final score of 11-4.

“It was a total team effort,” said Kluvers, who was 4-for-4 with two runs and three runs batted in. “We wanted to get this win and get to the championship game.”

“I just felt they were just playing baseball,” coach Lucas Rustad said of North Dakota’s long day. “They were confident. We just played solid baseball. Today was just really good approaches and we didn’t chase many pitches outside of the zone. When we got pitches we did a good job finding holes.”

Destrehan, in its fourth year as a program and first appearance at the American Legion World Series, went 3-0 in pool play to win the Stars division.

Fargo will face the winner of the second semifinal featuring Idaho Falls, Idaho Post 56 and Danville, Ill., Post 210.

“It means a lot to me. This is this program’s fourth trip to the World Series and not a lot of programs have had the privilege to be here. I expect our kids to play a good hard-nosed game and exceptional baseball.”

“It’s a blast. There have been so many teams through North Dakota’s history and to be the first team to make it [to the national championship game] is incredible.”


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Game 12: Idaho completes sweep of Stripes pool to advance

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Idaho Falls, Idaho Post 56 moved to 3-0 in pool play by holding on in a tough 4-3 win over Randolph Co., N.C., Post 45.

The win sends Idaho to the national semifinal at 7 p.m., eliminates North Carolina and allows Fargo, N.D., Post 2 to finish second in the pool. Fargo will play at 4 p.m., in the first semifinal.

Idaho had a few chances early. In the top of the first, a runner reached third with one out but a popout and a strikeout by Trevor Marsh got North Carolina out of trouble.

North Carolina got a leadoff hit from Harris Jackson to start the bottom of the frame and Trevor Marsh lined a double to move him to third. Spencer Lanier's sacrifice fly brought home Jackson and gave the game its first run.

Idaho left two on in the top of the third and the offense was busy again in the fourth.

They tied it up, then with runners on second and third and one out, a fly ball into foul ground forced first baseman Spencer Lanier to range over and make an over-the-shoulder grab. He wheeled and fired home to barely get the runner at home, keeping the lead 1-0.

In the fifth, Idaho broke through for two more to take the lead. Bruer Webster hit a one-out double to the right-field wall and came around on an Alex Cortez single. Randon Hostert and Tavyn Lords hit consecutive singles to bring home Cortez.

Pinch hitter Kai Howell, Webster and Cortez hit consecutive singles to bring home another run to make the lead 4-1.

North Carolina made it interesting in the bottom of the frame, getting two hits, a wild pitch, ground out and sacrifice fly to make the lead 4-3.

Idaho closed the door to seal the win, however. Jace Hanson's five innings of one-run ball were followed by two innings from Andrew Gregersen.

“That was a good team but we had to fight it out,” Cortez said. “It’s unbelievable. This field, this setup, it’s just awesome to be here,” Cortez said.

Destrehan, La., Post 366 won the Stars pool and will face North Dakota at 4 p.m., on ESPNU Monday. Following that, Idaho will face Danville, Ill., Post 210 in the other semifinal.


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Legion to Congress: ‘Fix the Gold Star kiddie tax!’

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American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad called on Congress to address a tax that unfairly penalizes Gold Star families once lawmakers return to Washington.

“There is a real problem with this provision of the tax reform but the Senate and the House already passed different solutions to fix it,” Reistad said of the measure. “For many Gold Star family members the tax penalty has become unbearable. In some cases the taxes on the survivor’s benefits received after a military member’s death have increased from $1,000 a year in 2018 to nearly $4,500 in 2019. It redefines certain benefits for children as ‘unearned income,’ subjecting them to higher rates. Increasing the tax burden on these families who lost a loved one is unconscionable. “

The law, which is often referred to as “the kiddie tax,” increases the marginal tax rate for some to as much as 37 percent.

“It’s outrageous to hammer these families with such an unjust tax hike. Haven’t they already sacrificed enough? How can a family plan its financial future for such things as rent, food or the basic necessities of life when the tax rate on the important benefits they received is held up in limbo? In addition to the ‘kiddie tax,’ there is a ‘widow’s tax’ that The American Legion has long opposed,” Reistad said. “The House version of the National Defense Authorization Act includes the elimination of the widow’s tax and The American Legion has called on the Senate conferees to adopt the same language and pass it as part of the budget deal as soon as they return from recess.”


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ALWS Game 11: North Dakota closes out victory after resuming suspended game

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In the continuation of Sunday night’s suspended Game 11, North Dakota built upon its 5-1 lead with four more runs Monday morning to defeat Shrewsbury, Mass., Post 397, 9-1.

Colton Frey started for North Dakota and pitched 2.1 innings, allowing two walks and an unearned run on Sunday before the rain came. Zach Sandy took over on Monday and allowed only one hit, taking a combined no hitter into the seventh inning, before closing it out.

It is the 13th one-hitter in American Legion World Series history and the second year in a row that the World Series has seen a one-hitter (Jimmy Gamboa of Las Vegas Post 40).

Both teams went hitless in the first inning Sunday but North Dakota had a huge inning in the second to score five runs and take command early.

Blake Anderson hit a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Brandt Kolpack forced a difficult play on a hard-hit ball up the middle and legged out a hit and forced an error which scored Anderson and sent Kolpack to third. Drew Sandy, Chandler Ibach and Zach Sandy all hit singles and Zach Kluver cleared the bases with a two-run double to make the margin 5-0.

Fargo stranded runners on first and third in the third, failing to add to their lead. Shrewsbury got one back in the bottom of the third in an odd inning with a walk, error, pickoff, hit by pitch and another error bringing a run home.

At 5:13 p.m., lightning in the area forced the tournament’s first weather delay just as Massachusetts got some momentum, ultimately leading to the game’s suspension.

On Monday at 11 a.m., the game resumed with a new pitcher, some new uniforms and the momentum went back to Fargo.

It only took two pitches for Fargo to get out of the third inning, including a pickoff at second by Sandy, and immediately made Massachusetts pay in the top of the fourth.

The pitcher battled from an 0-2 count to walk and Cole Hage followed with a single. On an 0-1 count, Blake Anderson launched an 0-1 pitch over the left field wall to make the lead 8-1.

“Getting that guy picked off right away was huge,” Anderson said. “That momentum build was incredible.”

Zach Sandy helped his own cause again, as he singled in Brandt Kolpack in the seventh to add an insurance run.

The combined no-hit bit lasted until the seventh but a grounder through the left side ended the opportunity.

With the win, Fargo stays alive in the Stripes pool. Post 2 will advance to the semifinals with an Idaho win over North Carolina in Game 12 or a would be in a three-way tie for the two top seeds with a North Carolina win. The two teams with the fewest runs allowed in the tournament will advance.

“We are the first team in Post 2 history to win two games at the World Series,” Anderson said. “It’s incredible.”


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Requests should be submitted in writing to the appropriate military service branch division of the NPRC. Standard form (SF 180), available through the VA, is recommended to submit your request. Generally, there is no charge for medal or award replacements. For more information, or for the mailing address of the military branch office to submit your request to, call 1-86-NARA-NARA (1-866-272-6272) or visit the NPRC website at www.archives.gov