Plant City’s American Legion Post was just named the winner of the Best Post School Medals Program at the state national convention for the second year in a row.
The American Legion’s Plant City post, the Norman McLeod Post 26, once again was honored for its dedication to local youth at the Legion’s Florida State Convention in Orlando this July.
For the second year in a row, Plant City was named the top Post in Florida for its school awards program. Though the Norman McLeod Post prides itself on pouring back into local youth, representatives said they were shocked to hear their name called once again from the podium the night the award was announced.
There are approximately 400 American Legion posts throughout the state of Florida and, while not every branch participates in the annual American Legion School Medal Award Program, a large quantity do. The program asks school administrators and staff to select two students, a boy and a girl, from that year’s graduating class who exemplify courage, honor, leadership, patriotism, scholarship and service.
They are then presented with a medal, which is the highest honor awarded by the Legion to youth. A representative from the region, usually Ray Cliburn, attends each school’s scholarship and award night and surprises the students during the ceremony. Cliburn was instrumental in bringing the program back into life at the branch in Plant City.
“I really enjoy going to the schools and presenting the award on their award night,” Cliburn said. “We have our uniform we wear and we get on the agenda and do our little speech introducing the program, and the students don’t know until that moment that they’re chosen. This year, when I made my presentation, I made the point that the Post is 100 years old and joked that I’m not a founding member. I’m not old enough yet, but I plan to stay involved as long as I have the health.”
Cliburn himself was a recipient of the award back in 1947 and 1950, and said receiving it was an honor he still values to this very day. In fact, the medals are still on display in his home. Because of his fond memories, when he became active with the Plant City Post and discovered the program was no longer up and running, he volunteered to help restore it to its former glory and continue the tradition of impacting the lives of local students.
Obviously the hard work of the Legion members paid off, as it’s snagged the honor of top school program in back-to-back years.
Plant City’s Legion is just getting started, Cliburn said, and as this is the 100th anniversary of the American Legion, the local branch will show off its many accomplishments and highlight some of its dedicated veteran members during a special ceremony on Veterans Day.
Several highlighted veterans will speak about their experiences at the event and there will be a unique ceremony in honor of the special day.
The Legion will mail out approximately 100 letters inviting both prospective members and their inactive members to come out and see what is happening right here in Plant City.