Auditor Chapman honors vets

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 10, 2004

State Auditor Beth Chapman, the woman who gained national acclaim for her patriotic speech at a 2003 “Stand Up for America” rally, found herself humbled in the presence of so many war veterans at the American Legion Post 20 Christmas dinner Thursday night.

Chapman, author of “The Power of Patriotism,” was invited by the American Legion to discuss her book and her unwavering support for the U.S. military.

“You probably expected me to stand up here and make this great speech, but there is no way I could do it in the presence of so many who have served,” she said during her address to the Legionnaires. “All of you already know about the meaning of patriotism.”

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Chapman then added that she has always taught her two sons to show only the utmost respect for the men and women in uniform.

“I teach my sons to never say anything anti-God or anti-American,” she said. “We do not pass by a veteran or military person without thanking them for what they have done for us.”

When she made that now-famous four-minute speech at the rally in Pelham shortly before the war with Iraq began, Chapman said she had no idea it would become so widely circulated through the media and Internet.

It was even entered into the Congressional Record in April of 2003.

It was the popularity of her speech, followed by hundreds of e-mails from military personnel and civilians, that promoted her the write the book.

“This book is not about me, but about our soldiers,” Chapman said. “For someone to make anti-American statements about our soldiers, it made me want to say something.”

Chapman then encouraged everyone to always use the right to vote. Voting, she said, only changes this country for the better.

It’s a given right that she treasures everyday as a public servant.

“After being elected state auditor two years ago, my office has had 93 perfect audits,” Chapman said. “That’s five times the results with probably one-fourth of the money. That is our Christmas present to Alabama.”

At the end of her speech, Post 20 commander James G. Smith presented Chapman with a certificate of appreciation.

“We thank you for being a stand-up person and speaking out for all Americans,” Smith told her. “It is for your right to speak out and challenge that we (veterans) have served.”

At the end of the Christmas dinner, Smith also presented certificates of appreciation to many members of the American Legion Post 20 for their work with the group over the past year.