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Protocol & Planning Handbook for Department Convention and Meetings

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Protocol & Planning Handbook for

Department Convention and Meetings

The American Legion Family

Department of Idaho

For God and Country”

This Protocol and Planning Handbook is intended to assist those responsible for planning and conducting The American Legion Family Functions to achieve successful outcomes for these Events. Following established Protocol enables Functions to proceed smoothly and predictably and serves to enhance the image of the Hosting Post, Unit and Squadron and the Department of Idaho. This is critical, especially when The American Legion Family has Visitors from outside the Department of Idaho and when Visitors from the Public are present.
This Protocol and Planning Handbook covers planning and conduct of The American Legion Family Functions, including Visitations from Dignitaries, Post and Unit Meetings, District Meetings and Department Conventions.

All Department Officers should be familiar with this Handbook. Area Vice Commanders and District Commanders & Presidents should insure all American Legion Events, Meetings and Visitations by National and Department Officers follow this Handbook.
Table of Contents

District Conventions
The District Convention is often the largest The American Legion Family Meeting the average Family Member attends. Only a small percent of the Members of a Department ever get to a Department Convention, and the percent going to a National Convention is even smaller. Therefore, the District Convention becomes the one opportunity to impress the average Family Member and to inspire him or her with the knowledge and idealism of our accomplishments and aims.
The American Legion Time and Place Committee decide on the date and location of the District Meetings. At least three months before the Meeting day, the Legion and Auxiliary District Officers should get together with Host Post and Unit Officer to work out details for the Meeting.

These details include:
-Registration starts time, location, fee and workers. Only Members of your District are charged the Registration Fee. Department Officers should not be required to pay a Registration Fee, they are your Guests.

-Corsages, if given, are provided by the Host Unit to Distinguished Guests (All District and Department Officers, Unit Presidents, and National Guests)

-Luncheon: menu, cost, servers, utensils. Please note it is customary that the following receive complimentary Luncheon tickets:

Department Commander

Department President

NEC – both Legion and Auxiliary

Department Adjutant

Department Secretary

-Afternoon Breaks: approximate time, food and beverage

-Notices of the District Meeting should be sent by the District Officers to all Posts and Units in the District; District Officers; and All Department Officers, Chairmen, and Department Headquarters at least four weeks in advance. Notices should include time, location, directions, cost of Registration and Lunch, and Menu. A reply should be sent to the Host Unit at least one week prior to the Convention.


Script – a script should be prepared for the Joint Opening and for both the Legion and Auxiliary Meetings. Refer to the “Manual of Ceremonies” as a Guide to Conducting the Meeting.

Head Table Configuration Guidelines

For District Convention

The Head Table is a place of distinction. Placement of Guests at the Head Table is indicative of their Office within The American Legion Family and Protocol should be followed explicitly. Those seated at the Head Table should be notified in advance. It is a tradition in the Department of Idaho, that the Auxiliary is seated at the Speaker’s right side and The Legion on the left.


If other Distinguished Guests are to be located at the Head Table, or if another configuration is to be considered, check with the Department Adjutant if there are any questions regarding layout or proper position of Guests. Place cards indicating Guest’s name, should be at each seating on the Head Table. Other Distinguished Guests may be located at Reserved Tables.

District Convention Helpful Hints:


While preparing the Agenda, note that Department Committee Chairmen present should be allowed to address the Group, followed by the Department Officers. The Department Commander and President should be asked to speak last and given all the time needed for their address.

Registration Table:

To assist the Department and District Commanders and Presidents; have someone at the Registration Table prepare a list of all Distinguished Guests present with correct names and titles.


Order of introductions is done in order of Office within the Organization, from low to high:

-Local Dignitaries

-Non-American Legion Family Guests

-S.A.L. Officers – Local, District, Detachment, National

-Auxiliary Officers – Local, District, Department, National

-American Legion (introduced in Order of Installation)


-Service Officer


-Judge Advocate


-Vice Commander

-NEC, Alternate NEC




Podium, Microphone, American Flag, Legion and Auxiliary Flags in stands, small table for Altar, POW/MIA Chair.

Department Conventions

The Department Commander and Department President are in charge of all arrangements concerning the Department American Legion and Auxiliary Convention, delegating authority, to the Department Legion and Auxiliary General Convention Chairmen to make the necessary physical arrangements for a successful Department Convention.

The Legion/Auxiliary Convention Chairmen, Department Commander and Adjutant, Department President and Secretary should meet months in advance to set the date of the Department Convention and to make preliminary plans.

The Legion is responsible for the Convention Banquets and the Auxiliary for the Luncheons. The Department Commander and President are responsible for the seating arrangements at these functions and should consult each other concerning Dignitaries to be seated at the Head Table.

Duties of the Department Convention Chairmen

1. Meet with Department Commander/President and Adjutant/Secretary for general agreement on Convention Site and Facilities available.

2. The American Legion Convention Chairman should consult with the Chairman of the Auxiliary, the Department Commander and Department President, The American Legion Adjutant and Department Secretary in order that a harmonious Convention is hosted.

3. Meeting with Hotel Personnel:

A. Scheduling Complimentary Rooms for:

Department Commander

Department President

Note: These are the only two rooms the Host Post pays for and/or negotiates as Complimentary Rooms. All other rooms are paid by each respective Department (Legion or Auxiliary).

B. Department Adjutant and Department Secretary schedule Rooms for their National Guests.

C. Department Adjutant will schedule Rooms for the following. (Note: The Department pays for these Rooms, not the Host Post.)

-Police Officer of the Year, 1 night

-EMT of the Year, 1 night

-Fireman of the Year, 1 night

-Fourth Estate (Printed Media) of the Year, 1 night

-Educator of the Year, 1 night

D. Make arrangements for Joint Meeting Room,

approximately 200 people

  1. Joint Opening – 8:30am Friday

-Skirted Head Table on risers for 10-12 people

-Small skirted table in front of podium for Altar

-POW/MIA Chair

-PA system

-Water on Head Table – water station in back of room

(2) Joint God and Country Memorial Service – 9:00am Sunday

-Skirted table on risers for 5-6 people

-Small table in front of podium for Altar

-POW/MIA Chair

-PA system

-Water on Head Table – water station in back of room

-Check with The American Legion Chaplain regarding room set up and additional equipment needed.

E. Arrange Meeting Rooms for The American Legion (See Appendix 1)

-Finance Commission, 10 people – 1pm Wednesday

-Finance Commission, 10 people – 9am Thursday

-DEC Meeting, 40 people – 10am Thursday

-American Legion Riders, 30 people - 1pm Thursday

-S.A.L. Convention, 30 people – 3 pm Thursday

-A Room for the following Committees: Service Officers School; 20 people, Americanism, 30 people; Legislative, 10 people – 10:30am Friday

-Finance Commission, 10 people – 8am Saturday

-General Session, 100 people– 8:30am Saturday

-Boys State Directors – Immediately after close Saturday

-Post DEC, 30 people, 10am Sunday

F. Arrange Meeting Rooms for the American Legion Auxiliary (See Appendix II)

-Girls State, DEC – 30 people 1:00pm-5:00pm Thursday

-Auxiliary General Session – 100 people 8:30 am-5pm Friday & Saturday -Junior Activities – 25 people – 10am-5pm Friday & 9am-5pm Saturday

-Post DEC meeting 25 people 10:30-12noon – Sunday

G. Make Room and Meal arrangement for Breakfasts, Luncheons and Banquet

-The American Legion Commanders Breakfast, 30 people, 7:30 Thursday (By Invitation Only)

-Auxiliary Luncheon, 80 (est) people, 12:00


-Commanders Banquet, 150 (est) people, 7pm Friday

(No Host Bar at 6pm) – Possibly Saturday night – See Dept. Adjutant

-Past President’s Parley (ALA) Breakfast, 30(est) people, 7am Saturday

-Auxiliary Luncheon, 80 (est) people, 12:00 Saturday

-New President’s Reception – check with Incoming President

-BBQ (either at Post or Hotel) opposite night of Commander’s Banquet, 125 (est) people

-Past Dept. Commander’s Breakfast, 25people, 8am Sunday

-Department President’s Breakfast, 25-30 people, 8 a.m. Sunday

H. Meal Planning

Meet with Department Commander, Department President, Auxiliary Chairman hosting Luncheon regarding menu.

-Meal tickets (except for Dept. President’s Breakfast – Dept. Secretary will sell and print tickets)


-Pricing – consider your Complimentary Tickets


-Place cards – check with Department Commander and Department President regarding the seating at Head Table

Complimentary Tickets are provided by the Legion for Legion Events, and the Auxiliary for Auxiliary Events (Not the Host Post) for the following:

Commander’s Banquet/BBQ Event:

Department Commander – 1

Auxiliary President – 1

Legion and Auxiliary National Guests – 1 each

Auxiliary Luncheons:

Department Commander – 1 per event

Auxiliary President – 1 per event

Auxiliary Secretary – 1 per event

Auxiliary Treasurer – 1 per event

Auxiliary NEC – 1 per event

Auxiliary Luncheon Hostess Chairman – 1

Legion and Auxiliary National Guests – 1 each per event
I. Arrange for Registration Table for both The American

Legion and The American Legion Auxiliary.

a. A table for 2 to 4 people for both TAL and ALA.

b. Schedule people to work the Registration. Provide a cash box and change.

d. Check credentials, sell Banquet/Luncheon tickets, and provide packets. Department Headquarters will provide a list of Delegates, name tags, ribbons and badges. Registration table should be open at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and will close at the start of the Afternoon Sessions.

J. The Host Post shall have a printed Program with pictures of Department, District, National Officers and Special Guests. This Program will include the Agendas of both The American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary.

a. Convention Chairman is responsible for selling ads, collecting the ads and money from the buyer, collecting letters from the Governor, Mayor, National Commander and National President. Collecting photos of The American Legion Department Commander, NEC, Alternate NEC, Dept. Adjutant, Dept. Judge Advocate, Dept. Chaplain, Dept. Historian, Dept. Sgt. At Arms, Dept. Assist Sgt-at-Arms; Dept. Area Vice Commanders; Finance Commission; and District Commanders. Collect photos of the following: American Legion Auxiliary Dept. President, NEC, Alternate NEC, Dept. Vice President; Dept. Secretary, Dept. Treasurer; Dept. Historian; Dept. Sgt.-at-Arms; Dept. Chaplain; District Presidents.

Convention Chairman is also responsible for publishing of the Booklet and organizing people to put together packets.

K. The Department Commander and Department President shall arrange the Agenda for his/her Convention to his/her satisfaction. The Department Adjutant and Secretary shall aid the Commander/ President with these arrangements.

a. The Department Commander and Adjutant shall arrange the Head Table for the Commander’s Banquet. The Convention Chairman or his/her Committee shall arrange for place cards at the Head Table.

b. The Department Commander shall choose his/her Speaker and Program for said Banquet.

c. National Dignitaries shall be recognized at the Banquet.

d. The Department President of the Auxiliary shall be prepared to give a brief greeting and introduce her Officers.

e. All announcements, special events and awards should precede the featured Speaker so that nothing detracts from the impact of his/her speech. The Program should be brief in order that the Speaker does not have to curtail his/her remarks.

L. Legion Department will reimburse the Host Post for the following:

a. $7.00 per Registered, Paid Delegate.

Department Auxiliary will reimburse the Host Unit for the following:

a. $2.00 per Registered, Paid Delegate.

M. The Department of Idaho Legion directly pays for Department Awards Winners, National and other Special Guests that are invited by the Department.
N. The Department of Idaho Auxiliary directly pays for any Special Guests and/or Auxiliary National Guests invited by their Department.

General Visitation Protocol

District Commanders/Presidents:

District Commanders and Presidents should individually attend at least one complete Meeting at all Posts/Units in their respective District. Coordinate these Visits well in advance with Post Commander/Unit President.

Area Vice Commanders:

Vice Commanders should attend all District Meetings. Coordinate with District Commanders well in advance.

Department Commanders

Department President:

The Post/Unit is the Host/Hostess for these Visitations, RSVP letters of invitation, with itinerary and tickets, if applicable, should be sent to the Department Commander, Department President, Department Adjutant, Department Secretary, Legion NEC and Auxiliary NEC, Alternate NEC’s, and S.A.L. Commander

National Commander:

The Department is the host for these Visitations. The NEC and the Department should coordinate all activities associated with the Visit.

Speaking Protocol

Speaking Order:

The Main Speaker/Guest of Honor speaks last as he/she will receive the longest speech of introduction and their address will conclude the speaking portion of the Program.

Speeches of Introductions:

Should be brief, to-the-point;

Refrain from reciting biographical data, use anecdotes when appropriate;

Length of speech of introduction varies with respect to the Office of the Individual being introduced; the Highest-Ranking Guest receives the longest speech of introduction.

Introduction of Head Table:

Generally done by the Master of Ceremonies;

Order of Introduction starts with Speaker’s extreme left, working toward the center, then with the Speaker’s extreme right, working toward the center.

Introductions should be brief – names and titles/functions;

Refrain from lengthy introductions of any particular Individual.
Order of Introductions:

Are generally done in order of Office within the Organization from low to high:

-Local Dignitaries, Non-American Legion Guests

-S.A.L. Officers – Local, District, Detachment, National

-Auxiliary Officers – Local, District, Department, National

-American Legion Officers – Local, District, Department, National

-American Legion Officers are usually introduced in the order by which they’re installed into Office:


Service Officer


Judge Advocate


Vice Commander




If NEC or Alternate NEC is present, this Officer should be introduced just prior to the -----Department Commander.
Legion Cap Etiquette

The American Legion Cap is both symbolic and illustrative to Legionnaires and conveys a Distinct Message to the General Public about American Legion Membership. The Cap should be decorated in accordance with the Guidelines of Resolution #58, adopted by the

NEC April 30 – May 1, 1964.

Women Legionnaires may remain covered at all times, generally following the directives of Uniformed Military Personnel regarding headgear.

Male Legionnaires may wear the Legion Cap at all times during Legion functions EXCEPT for:

  • Religious segments of Functions such as Invocations and Benedictions and other Prayers

  • Memorial to Departed Comrades

  • Recital of the Pledge of Allegiance

  • Playing of the National Anthem

  • As routine courtesy during dining

Masters of Ceremony should remind Attendees to uncover during the above Activities.

The Cap should be worn in Church only by the Honor Guard of Color Guard while in marching order or standing guard. When returning to or while seated in pews, the Cap should be removed. Legionnaires not in formation will remove the Cap while in Church.

Legionnaires will hold their Cap over their heart as illustrated on the previous page in the following instances:

  • If marching in formation into Church, until seated in the pew and as exiting the Church.

  • Approaching a casket (Note: That the Cap over the heart is a form of salute. If a Legionnaire desires to render a hand salute at the casket of a Departed Comrade, he may cover, salute and then uncover.

  • At graveside, during the entire Service except for cold or inclement weather when the Cap should not be doffed.

  • Religious segments of Legion functions such as Invocations, Benedictions and other Prayers.

  • Pledge of Allegiance

  • National Anthem

  • Memorial to Departed Comrade(s)

In these instances the Cap should be held in the right hand, over the heart with The American Legion Emblem facing outward. Women Legionnaires should place their right hand over their heart during the Pledge of Allegiance or the playing of The National Anthem.

Appendix I

Sample of The American Legion Convention Program


1:00pm Finance Commission


07:30 am Breakfast

08:00 am Registration

09:00 am Finance Commission

10:00 am DEC Meeting

1:00 pm Legion Riders

3:00 pm S.A.L. Convention


8:00 am Registration

8:30 am Joint Opening – Legion/Auxiliary

10:30am Service Officers School


Children and Youth


Finance Commission

12:00pm Auxiliary Luncheon

1:30 pm Legion Convention reconvenes

2:30 pm Gem Boys State Stockholders Meeting

2:45 pm American Legion Baseball Stockholders Meeting

6:00 pm Barbeque

9:30 pm District Caucuses (By District Notice)


8:00 am Registration

8:30 am Sessions reconvene

12:00 pm Auxiliary Luncheon

1:30 pm Legion Session continues

1:30 pm Boys State Directors

6:00 pm No Host Social

7:00 pm Commander’s Banquet


8:00 am Past Department Commanders Breakfast

8:00 am Finance Commission

9:00 am Memorial Service

10:00 am New Department Executive Committee Meeting
Appendix II

Sample of American Legion Auxiliary Convention Program


8:00 am Registration

1:00 pm Girls State Board Meeting

2:30 pm Finance Meeting

3:30 pm Department Executive Meeting

4:30 pm Past President’s Meeting


8:00 am Registration

8:30 am Joint Opening

10:00 am Auxiliary Meeting Convenes

10:00 am Junior Meeting convenes

12:00 pm Luncheon

1:30 pm Auxiliary Meeting reconvenes

7:00 pm Barbeque


7:00 am Past Presidents Parley Breakfast

(Includes all past Unit, District, Department and National Presidents)

8:00 am Registration

8:30 am Auxiliary Meeting Reconvenes

9:00 am Junior Auxiliary

12:00 pm Auxiliary Luncheon

1:15 pm Girls State Corporation Meeting

(All Auxiliary Members Attend)

2:30 pm Auxiliary Meeting Reconvenes

4:00 pm Installation of New Officers

(All Auxiliary Members Attend)

5:00 pm New President’s Reception

6:00 pm No Host Social

7:00 pm Commander’s Banquet


8:00 am Department President’s Breakfast (By Invitation Only)

9:30 am God and Country Service

10:30 am New Auxiliary Executive Committee Meeting

Revised November 16, 2013

All prior editions are obsolete.

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