SHELBY, NC - Oct. 25, 2019 - Eddie and Millie Holbrook, as representatives of the local American Legion World Series Committee, accepted the Patriot Award from the National American Legion Office during meetings held at Legion headquarters in Indianapolis the week of Oct. 14.
The Patriot Award is given to individuals or organizations to recognize great deeds or exemplary acts of service. The plaque is signed by newly-elected National Commander James W. "Bill" Oxford and National Adjutant Daniel S. "Dan" Wheeler.
The award reads in part: "For your dedication in promoting the values of The American Legion through the increased visibility and professional hosting of The American Legion World Series in Shelby, N.C..... The hospitality, enthusiasm and support shown by the residents of Cleveland County have exceeded our highest expectations."
The citation makes note of game coverage by ESPN and support of military heroes and declares that the 2019 ALWS was "a resounding success and a memorable milestone in the centennial celebration of the nation's largest and most influential veterans organization."
The award was presented Oct. 16 at a meeting of the National Executive Committee. In his acceptance remarks, ALWS Committee Chairman Eddie Holbrook shared that as host of the ALWS, "we wanted those young men, who came from all over the country wearing The American Legion seal to participate in the American Legion World Series, we wanted it to be a highlight of their life. I think if you were to talk to the Idaho Falls (Post 56 2019 ALWS champions) coach today, he would tell you what it meant to the Idaho Falls players."
Eddie Holbrook has been co-chairman or chairman of the original steering committee and later the Executive Committee of Cleveland County ALWS Baseball Inc. since its inception in 2002 to bid for the Southeastern Regional American Legion tournament. His co-chairman from 2002-2015 was the late Jim Horn, whom Holbrook credits with the initial push to bring the ALWS to Shelby-Cleveland County. Holbrook's wife Millie joined the Executive Committee in 2015 and coordinates special events. Horn's wife Linda continues to be a core volunteer for the ALWS, working with athletic trainers and local physicians on site during the games.
The volunteer committee that formed to coordinate the 2002 regional evolved into the committee that engineered the N.C. State Tournament in Shelby in 2004, then morphed into the committee responsible for the Southeastern Regional AND the American Legion World Series in 2008 and solidified into the committee that made the bid for Shelby-Cleveland County to become the permanent home of the ALWS in 2010. Many of the names on the 2002 committee are still on the roster of the Executive Committee of Cleveland County ALWS Baseball and the list of 500-600 volunteers who implement the series each August.
Other recipients of the Patriot Award include Mitch Daniels, former governor of Indiana and president of Purdue University; Bernard Marie of Roanoke, Va., a French survivor of the Normandy occupation; and Country Music Hall of Fame members, The Oak Ridge Boys.
Pictured: Left of the displayed Patriot Award are Jake Comer, Millie Holbrook and Eddie Holbrook; right of the award are National Commander Bill Oxford, Gaither Keener and Richard Anderson. Comer and Keener are members of the Advisory Committee to the National Commander; Anderson is Chairman of the Americanism Commission. © Ben Mikesell/The American Legion
Submitted by Judy Gaultney