The Adjutant’s Report
55th Anniversary (1996 – 2000)
Fang A. Wong
“I will not disgrace the soldier’s arms, nor disgrace the comrade who stands at my side; but whether alone or with many, I will fight to defend things sacred and profane. I will hand down my country not lessened, but larger and better than I have received it.” – An ancient Athenian oath
During Legion year 1996-1997, health reasons necessitated the retirement of both Past Commander Willie H. Art and Past Commander John F. Lee, as Adjutant for our Post. It was in April 1997 that I accepted the appointment as “Acting” Adjutant by the Post Executive Committee. Since that time, due to a series of coincidental events, I have remained on as the Post Adjutant. On the eve of our 55th Anniversary, I consider myself in a unique position to submit some opinions and make observations on the “State of the Post” for the last three years, to you, our members.
Our Post had undergone many changes during the past three years in preparation for the new millennium. Gone are the days of typewriters and ribbons, replaced instead by computers and fax machines. The office automation has allowed for more efficiency and the consumption of less time on our projects and workload. We created a Post membership database and began a more meaningful way of managing our member-related business. Although we are not quite “there” with “100% foolproof” accuracy on our database (There are many reasons for the data being less than perfect), we are confident that we will eventually achieve that goal in the near future. Automation also enabled us to standardize our operations and expand our ability to communicate more with our members, through regular newsletters and bulletins. Our Post also joins the 21st Century, by having an Internet web site of our own – ltkimlau.com. Thanks to the efforts of our member Wayne Hom, this site is already up and running. Future additions to the site will include Post activities, membership information, Legion information, veterans’ information, and links that will benefit our membership and promote the Legion. The web and email are here to stay, and I am happy to report that more and more members communicate with me online to keep in touch.
The second item I wish to report on is the ongoing overhaul of our building infrastructure. As our Post headquarters building ages, we must recognize the importance of maintenance and upkeep. Starting on the summer of 1997, we have been following a planned course to upgrade our facilities. From office renovation and interior beautification, to the major overhaul of the elevator and lobby replacement, we constantly strive for the safety and comfort of our members. While we have accomplished much during the past three years, there are more areas that we would like to address in the near future. Things like new AC units, replacement windows, a security system, and sidewalk replacement, etc., will be high on our list of things to do. I would also like to take this opportunity to praise Past Commander Frank F. Gee and Commander Wing Y. Tam for the time and efforts they have spent during the past three years improving our overall quality of life here at Post Headquarters. Without their leadership and perseverance, many of these projects may not have been possible.
Other than the above software and hardware structure improvements, we also saw major changes in the philosophical approach toward our mode of operations. Early on in my first year, then Commander Frank F. Gee and I agreed to form an executive team to deal with most issues of the Post. This team consists of the Commander, Vice Commanders, Adjutant, Assistant Adjutant, Chinese Secretaries, and Treasurer. We meet before our Executive Committee meetings or whenever it’s necessary, to discuss and prepare the agenda for upcoming events. Our meetings have facilitated a closer working relationship among the various officers and provided direct and open communications with each other. There was also a noticeable youth movement within the governing body of the organization, where many younger/newer members were given leadership roles for the first time. The elders of this organization have had the wisdom to ask, and to allow the new leaders to learn and to practice how to do it by themselves. This transformation has been smooth and peaceful in general, with more cooperation than confrontation. Within younger cadre, many innovative ideas were allowed to flourish and channeled into reality. As our Adjutant, I learned of the many sacrifices our elders made in the past to ensure a solid foundation for our Post. Therefore, I am especially happy to see that our younger generation not only appreciates their efforts but has also shown much respect and admiration, and a willingness to carry on.
In 1998, after almost two years of hard work, and with the cooperation of everyone, we revised our Constitution and Bylaws for the first time since our inception. This action corrected many much-needed updates/changes to our Constitution and Bylaws and provided us with a more current mode of operating procedures. Another major Post initiative in 1998-1999 was to support the building of the “National World War II Memorial” at Washington, DC. Our membership approved the donation of over $20,000 to sponsor our eligible World War II members as charter members of the “World War II Memorial Fund.” After compiling all the application forms, I had the honor of representing the Post at the American Legion national Convention in New Orleans, to present the check. When I made the presentation o stage to then National Commander Anthony Jordan and World War II Memorial Fund Co-Chair Mr. Fred Smith, I was never more prouder as a member of this Post. Afterwards the tremendous reception and acknowledgement toward our Post was something I will never forget. National later rewarded our Post with two huge certificates of appreciation for our support of the Memorial. For the last two years, there were many donations by other posts wit amounts larger than ours were, but the Lt. Kimlau Post was the one who had set the pace. Our Post was the leader in support of this worthy and long overdue project, and we should be very proud of it!
As stated by Past Commander John F. Lee in his article published on our 50th Anniversary Journal “A Brief History of The American Legion Lt. B. R. Kimlau Post 1291”, the Post has curtailed/terminated many programs in the last twenty years. this was caused first by financial constraints, and later due to the aging of the World War II era members. Therefore, during that period of time, the Post basically attended to its internal needs and was not actively involved with our external environments. We did not reverse this course until the mid 90s, when we once again began to play an active role in the community and in the Legion family. For the past two years, our Post was elected to serve on the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) Standing Committee. Working in-harmony with other organizations in the community, our opinions and views were often sought, and were respected by many. In the Legion family, our Post has been very active in the last few years, participating in County, District, and Department activities. We are particularly active at the County level, this year with Past Commander Frank F. Gee serving as the County Vice Commander, and Past Commander Richard Chin, Hing W. Chin, Moning Lin and myself serving as County Executive Committeemen. At the Department level, I had the honor of serving as the Department Commander’s Aide last year and, as the Department’s Americanism Chairman this year. All in all, as more members were encouraged to take part in our activities, they tended to quickly fall-in, and became part of the solution.
Many member have often commented to me how tough it must be to serve as the Adjutant. I only wish they knew the opposite is true! Being Adjutant is not hard if you have a good team working together. Being Adjutant is also not hard if you have the support of your members. Fortunately, for the past three years, I have both the support of the members as well as a great team to work with. I remember that when I first took over as Adjutant, an elder had provided me with his PPC formula of success (No, PPC here is not Past Post Commander): Patience, Peace and Cooperation. One must be patient with everything and must not offend even one’s enemy; one must always find a peaceful solution to a problem, no matter how long it takes; and one not only must seek cooperation of others, but must also cooperate with them in order to achieve the ultimate goal. Hence we use the motto – “We are here to serve you, and only because of you, we are here!” Our team takes this motto very seriously and works hard to maintain a standard not only to provide the best of services but, more importantly, to meet your approval.
It seems like only yesterday that we celebrated our 50th Anniversary, and now we are five years older. It seems like not too long ago that I accepted the “Acting Adjutant” appointment, but in fact it’s been over three years. As I sit down and try to collect my thoughts for this report to you, my heart is filled with happy and peaceful memories. I must express my deep gratitude to the Commanders I have served; their trust and support allowed me to do what’s right for the Post, with confidence. I must also express a profound thank you to the other members of the team (especially our Assistant Adjutant – Hing W. Chin), for their untiring efforts to serve, and for all the times when I was not there. Lastly, I must thank you for your friendship, your trust in me, and your belief in serving “For God and Country.”
So have we disgrace our comrades who stand beside us? Have we operated a Post that’s better than we have received it? My dear fellow members, you are the ultimate judge of the above questions and only you can answer them …