Recent renovations of the commander’s office at the American Legion in Southold are almost complete. The room is awaiting just one finishing touch: a mural created by local high school students.
Charles Sanders, commander of American Legion Post 803, said the mural must include the four pillars of the American Legion — Americanism, national security, children and youth, and veterans affairs and rehabilitation — but that students can otherwise be as creative as they wish.
Interested students must submit their designs by June 1. A selection committee of veterans will then choose one design to be painted in the office. The winner or winners will receive $500 and all materials for the mural will be provided by the legion, Mr. Sanders said.
“I think it’s important that the younger generation has an understanding of serving in the military or combat or some sort,” he said. “Having them located at the legion is a way for them to have contact with us, and looking into the four pillars they can think and ask questions, which gives them a better understanding of what it all means, what it stands for and why we’re actually here.”
Once selected, the winning student or students will have until the end of 2018 to complete the project. Then, they will be officially recognized at the installation of officers dinner in June 2019.
Mr. Sanders said members of the NJROTC programs at Mattituck, Southold and Greenport high schools have already been invited to participate, but the competition is open to any interested student.
“They can do it individually or as a group,” he said. “It’s even better when kids collaborate together on a project. It takes away from one kid getting most of the money, but it’s not about the money. It’s about interactions and learning and creativity.”
The mural will occupy framed space behind the commander’s desk that measures 7 feet, 10 inches by 9 feet, 4 inches, and will remain for years to come, welcoming new commanders to their position.
“Every day the commander walks in he’ll see the four pillars and what we stand for,” Mr. Sanders said. “I also think it’s paramount that the younger generation understand the sacrifices veterans make on their behalf, and the best way to do that is to interact with veterans.”
Top photo caption: Charles Sanders, commander of American Legion Post 803, indicates the space where high school students will paint a mural. (Credit: Nicole Smith)