MN American Legion Mobilizes Against Walz’s Restaurant Restrictions

The group representing veterans who’ve defended our freedoms from threats abroad has taken a stand for liberty in Minnesota by challenging Gov. Tim Walz’s continuing restrictions in response to the coronavirus. The commander of the Minnesota chapter of the American Legion wrote Walz a letter days before Memorial Day, joining forces with the hospitality industry in calling on the governor to give them more latitude in reopening their posts across the state.

Sir, on behalf of more than 66,000 American Legion veterans serving in 550 Minnesota communities, we stand with the professionals in the restaurant, bar and hospitality industries and dispute the restrictions placed on opening our Posts.

The American Legion of Minnesota concurs with the caution and shared sacrifice that our state must take to prevent the spread of the virus. More than 300 of our Posts operate restaurants or bars in our Minnesota hometowns, and our 101-year-old veteran service organization has always adhered to the strict standards of sanitation, cleanliness and hygiene as established by the state.

Communities did their best to commemorate Memorial Day in spite of the absence of traditional  parades and public ceremonies. Yet the legion commander tried to make the case that veterans, their friends and families should be allowed to safely commemorate the day in the one place that means most to many of them.

Minnesota’s American Legion Posts are more than bars or restaurants. We are proud community hubs and contribute to civic causes, youth sports, public safety, social justice and patriotism. With Memorial Day upon us, our community tradition of gathering at our local Post to honor those who have fallen must be modified.

While we can accept changing our traditional gatherings this Memorial Day, we believe that the recently unveiled modifications that will go into effect on June 1 do not reflect the best course of action. The standard of outdoor patios only, 50 patrons at a time, a requirement for reservations and wearing masks in all circumstances are not suited for our American Legion Posts.

In the end, Dvorak’s appeal to Walz as a veteran who served in the Minnesota Army National Guard, fell flat.

…Your fellow veterans urge you to reconsider and modify the established June 1 opening criteria. We concur with many of the restaurant and bar owners in our communities who believe we can open safely, and we assert that our veteran organization can likely set the highest standards of compliance with social distancing, sanitation and risk mitigation.

Perhaps the legion’s involvement in the campaign to expand capacity in legion halls and thousands of restaurants across the state will serve as a timely reminder that sometimes freedom also needs to be defended close to home.