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Message from Hal Thornton

 2017-2018 ALSSAR President


February 18, 2017

It is indeed and honor and privilege to be standing before you as the newly installed President of the Alabama Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.  And, I’m being honest when I tell you that other than the American Legion and the VFW, this is the only organization of which I am a member.  I have considered joining others, but for whatever reason, there was just not an appeal that gave me a feeling that I wanted to devote a lot of time and effort toward.  But, when I first heard about the SAR, I felt at the time that it was an organization that would enable me to satisfy my curiosity about my ancestors, and permit me to continue to fulfill my long felt need  to serve my country as my twenty two wonderful years in the military permitted me.  For you see, in my view, the purposes of the Sons of the American Revolution, Heredity, Patriotism, and Education are very much in line with the duties and responsibilities of our military.  To protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. In fact, we just pledged a solemn oath to do just that.  We just have different methodologies and procedures than does the military.  No bombs and bullets.  And each of us have a unique way in which we can fulfill these purposes, for each of you is a unique individual that has his own heritage, for when our fore fathers arrived on the North American Continent, there were no gleaming cities, no Statue of Liberty, no organized government, they were the beginning of the tremendous experiment which developed into what we proudly call today, the United States of America.  WE ARE AMERICANS BY HERITAGE. Our Society permits us the opportunity to demonstrate this heritage when we appear in our Patriots uniforms supporting the many Patriotic events around the country and when we support our youth programs in schools and educational activities.  And we are doing a very good job at fulfilling our obligations to our forefathers by honoring their memories, and creating memories in today’s youth of the sacrifices made by those long ago heroes through the youth programs, demonstrations and lectures, Patriot grave markings, Patriotic community events, Parades and many other educational and patriotic events, all based on our heredity of being unique AMERICANS BY HERITAGE. These are demanding activities and require constant effort on the part of the members of the Society, for these activities are not self-initiating and perpetuating.  They require planning, preparation and execution that can only be accomplished by dedicated individuals putting in long hours of hard work.  Without complaint or compensation.  It is all volunteer effort.  So, when you are contacted and asked to support the effort, please say yes to support in whatever way possible. 

Our Society is alive and actually doing very well.  Our membership is down a little bit, but we can’t do anything about people passing on or passing out of the state.  We have sixteen Chapters from the Shoals chapter in the Northwest corner to the Wiregrass Chapter in the Southeast.  I’ve visited many of the Chapters, and want to visit the others in the near future.  If your chapter has a particular time or event that you would like for me to participate in just let me know and I’ll do my best to get there.  I will tell you the month of March is pretty full. In the membership survey just completed, through the hard work of Compatriot Felton Mitchell, there was a lot of good information from the membership about their participation in meetings and activities.  We are looking at that information and deciding how we can use the insight gained through the survey to improve member participation.  A key indicator, in that it was reflected in more than one way, is members feeling a lack of inclusiveness.  This is an area we feel can be improved through better communication of information regarding what’s going on in the overall Society.  This is important to the Society as a whole because we are a membership driven organization, and membership numbers are important.  When members were questioned on the survey if they had ever recruited a new member, over fifty percent answered no.  That’s not good.  I would hope that every member thinks enough of our organization to try to get another person, a friend, a brother, a son or a complete stranger to join or apply for membership.  If every member recruited one new member a year, we’d be overwhelmed in the first year!!!  We can’t do that!!  But, if only one out of four of our members or one out of five members recruited a new member each year, that would be a great success and sustain our Society through perpetuity. 

We are currently undertaking several new initiatives to enhance and streamline the functionality of our Society.  The implementation of the Centralization of the Annual Business Meeting and Convention will greatly improve the planning, preparation, funding and conducting of this event.  In the past this task fell on the home chapter of the President. This imposed a severe hardship on all but a few of the largest chapters, and consequently prevented many of the compatriots from ever attempting to participate in the State officer selection.  This is being changed so that the annual business Meeting and convention will be at the same location each year and sponsorship and conduct becomes a State Society responsibility.  The move toward implementation of a Financial Forecast and Management process under the auspices of a Financial Forecast and Management Committee will greatly enhance the ability of the Society to manage its finances on a near real time basis, which is facilitated through the very successful use of our Go To Meeting capabilities. A major area of the Society Functionality that has been bypassed by technology at not only the Chapter and State level, but also at the National level, is our membership data processing and management from the time an application is submitted to the state registrar, until such time that the member is removed from the Society’s rolls.  There is much needed improvement in this area and we have a task force currently in existence that is charged with the responsibility of fully reviewing all the processes and procedures involved and determining the best way to streamline and modernize how we manage our membership, to include the development of a State Level data base that will integrate with chapters, state offices, and national entities.  This will eliminate many of the problems that are currently being experienced by the chapters and state officers, in membership data management and our lack of interface with National offices. Of course, as these processes change, it will necessitate that our By-Laws are revised to make sure that they are consistent and compliant with the new job descriptions, responsibilities and offices as are required by the revision of our functioning processes and procedures.  Currently there are several inconsistences within the By-Laws themselves.  We want our functionality to dictate the by-laws not the reverse.  With these changes it should be expected that the Society’s vibrancy and public image can be greatly enhanced.  We will be forming a Public Relations committee consisting of Co-Chairmen, and three committee members that will represent the three areas of the State, North, Central and South.  From the projected timeline of all ALSSAR events that are scheduled, they will develop a pro-active plan not a reactive plea, for promoting, reporting, and recording the information about the event, and forwarding this to all plausible media, both SAR and civilian.  Our membership devotes too much time and attention to doing good works to not get any recognition for it.  We are going to start TOOTING OUR OWN HORN!!!!!

As I told you in the beginning of my talk tonight, The Sons of the American Revolution is an extraordinary organization, and each and every one of you are unique and extraordinary AMERICANS BY HERITAGE. I truly am honored and humbled to be standing before you.  I pledge to you 100 percent of my time and effort necessary to fulfill the efforts I’ve outlined this evening and Bev has cleared her calendar and is willing and excited about joining me in this journey.  With your help and assistance and us working together we can make this another outstanding year for the ALABAMA SOCIETY OF THE SONS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.  THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR ATTENTION.  GOD BLESS YOU AND GOD BLESS AMERICA.