To qualify for FRA’s 2014 –2015 Membership Award Program:
1. Sponsor three new, reinstated or rejoined members and receive the collector’s edition “FRA 90th Anniversary” lapel pin.
2. For each new, reinstated or rejoined member you sponsor, you’ll receive an entry in the FRA prize drawing. The more you sponsor, the more entries you earn.
3. Sponsor 32 new members and qualify for an FRA award.
4. Submit completed applications to: FRA, 125 N. West St., Alexandria, VA 22314 -2754. Remember to include payment and your full name and membership number in the “Sponsored by” section of the application.
1st prize winner: Five year membership or cash equivalent: $135
2nd prize winner: Three year membership or cash equivalent: $85.50
3rd prize winner: Two year membership or cash equivalent: $57.00
4th –10th prize winner: One year membership or cash equivalent: $30.00
Penny Collins is FRA’s Director of Membership Development and a member of FRA Branch 24 in Annapolis, Maryland She can be reached at email@example.com. Return to Table of Contents
FEATURE—National Convention Primer
87th FRA & 82nd Auxiliary National Convention
October 13–19, 2014 Omni Bayfront Hotel Corpus Christi, Texas
What is the national convention—and who goes there?
Each year in October, the FRA and Auxiliary hold joint annual conventions—a full week of FRA tradition and ceremony, official business meetings, educational workshops, and an opportunity to socialize and network with shipmates from around the world. FRA has held a national convention every year since 1925, with the exception of the wartime years of 1942 and 1943. It’s something that every shipmate should experience at least once, and many return year after year.
Who goes to the national convention? It’s not just for branch officers. Whether you are new to FRA, a longtime shipmate who has never attended a convention, or a seasoned convention delegate, whatever your age and experience, you’ll find yourself in good company there. It’s not a typical “convention” where people try to sell you things all day—in that way, it is downright unconventional (please excuse the pun). There is no trade show or massive exhibit hall to put up with, but there are representatives from some of our affinity partners there to provide information. There are official business sessions each day, which any shipmate can attend; workshops on topics relevant to your life and well-being; the annual banquet and ball, a hospitality room, and much more—read on to learn all about it.
While every FRA shipmate is welcome at convention, only accredited delegates have the privilege of speaking from the floor or voting on association resolutions. To be a convention delegate, a shipmate must be a member of an FRA branch and register at convention. (FRA members-at-large are welcome at convention, but are not eligible to be delegates. They can, however, be designated as proxy delegates by an FRA branch.) Shipmates who are planning to attend convention should contact their branch secretary and ask to be included in the branch’s list of prospective delegates. Delegates or proxy delegates must be members in good standing and must be listed on the standard forms provided and submitted to FRA leadership prior to convention. Any changes must be submitted in writing no later than 15 days prior to the convention.
Registration is a simple process, made even easier if shipmates have their membership cards with them. The registration tables are usually open early in the week and an hour prior to the first business session of each day, and again for two or three hours in the early afternoon. (Specific times will be posted at convention.)
When you register, you will receive a delegate kit, which is a book containing all national officers’ and committee reports, resolutions to be considered by committees and delegates during the convention, and a section that tracks the voting strength of each branch. Voting strength is very important if the need arises for a roll-call vote (see “Business Sessions” below). Delegate kits are useful reference materials as the convention progresses, and are only available at the registration tables.
Delegates will also receive a convention program (which outlines the schedule of events for the week), a convention journal (which includes welcoming wishes and messages of support from shipmates, Auxiliary members, branches and units, as well as advertisers who support the convention), a nametag, and usually some discount coupons and other goodies when they register.
The official convention kickoff is the joint FRA and LA FRA opening ceremonies. The convention is called to order and honored guests are escorted into the hall to the sound of syncopated clapping, a long-standing FRA tradition that originated with shipmates clapping on the off-beat to a specific melody played to herald guests’ arrival. Next, the colors are presented and the National Chaplain offers an opening prayer, during which shipmates remove their caps and place them on their left shoulder. (Caps are removed in this manner as a sign of reverence during all prayers, and also when the Bible is opened and closed at the beginning and end of each business session).
The National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance are followed by remarks from our keynote speaker. A Two-Bell Ceremony is then held in honor of departed shipmates. The two-bell ritual is unique to FRA and is outlined in the association’s Rituals and By-Laws. The opening ceremonies conclude with greetings and announcements from FRA’s National Executive Director and the FRA and Auxiliary national presidents.
Attendees usually dress as they might for church or dinner at a nice restaurant, with gentlemen wearing coat and tie (business attire) for this event. PNPs often wear red jackets and Auxiliary members traditionally wear white to the opening ceremonies.
A note for active duty/reserve personnel
Service dress, service khaki or tropical blues are appropriate for all FRA convention events, with the exception of the installation of officers and banquet/ball on Saturday evening. Dinner or dress uniforms are suggested for the installation, banquet and ball.
Welcome Aboard party
(Wednesday, October 15)
As its name implies, this is a social event to welcome all shipmates and ladies to the convention, and it’s a great opportunity to renew old friendships and make new ones. This year’s Welcome Aboard party will have a festive birthday-party feel, as FRA approaches its 90th anniversary! Beverages are available and light snacks are usually served. Music and dancing are also featured highlights of the evening.
(Wednesday, October 15–Saturday, October 18)
FRA is one of the most democratic organizations of its kind, with convention delegates determining the future of the association. Prior to convention, branches, standing national committees and the Board of Directors may submit proposals, called resolutions, for new initiatives and changes to the association’s governing documents. These resolutions are referred to the appropriate national committees for consideration. At convention, committees meet to discuss these resolutions (see “Committee Meetings” below) and the chairmen report their committees’ recommendations and rationale to the delegates during a subsequent business session. The delegates then vote to approve or reject recommendations on resolutions. Committee chairmen also present their annual reports to delegates during the business sessions.
Robert’s Rules of Order is used as the parliamentary guideline for the business sessions, with motions being presented and seconded, followed by discussion and a vote. Registered delegates may make motions and seconds from the floor, and all delegates are authorized to cast a “yea” or “nay” in voice votes. If a clear majority cannot be determined by a voice vote, the national president may request a roll-call vote.
In the event of a roll-call vote, a representative from each branch will stand at the floor microphone and cast his/her branch’s vote on the issue at hand. The size of the branch determines the number of votes that may be cast. This voting strength is determined by the number of branch shipmates in good standing at the time of the vote.
Many shipmates choose business clothes (suits or coat and tie) for these sessions, while others elect to wear business casual attire, such as FRA polo shirts, a sweater or collared shirt.
(Thursday, October 16)
Over the course of the convention week, members of convention standing and special committees will meet to discuss the resolutions that have been referred to them. The following committees will hold meetings in smaller rooms throughout the convention hotel: Americanism-Patriotism; Budget and Finance; Constitution, Bylaws and Resolutions; Future Planning; Honorary Membership and Certificates of Merit; Hospitals, Welfare and Rehabilitation; Membership and Retention; Public Relations; Youth Activities; and special committees appointed by the national president. These meetings are open to all shipmates, and locations will be noted in the convention program. Guests are asked to sign in, but do not traditionally participate in the discussion. They are observers only; however, the committee chairman may recognize a visitor’s question or ask for an opinion from a guest.
(Tuesday, October 14–Friday, October 17)
During the course of convention week, there are numerous luncheons for specific groups. For example, there is usually an FRA and a separate Auxiliary luncheon for past national presidents, and sitting regional presidents and vice-presidents. These events are for those particular groups only and will be designated as “closed” in the convention program and on the registration form. Other luncheons, like the Auxiliary National President’s Luncheon, are open to convention delegates. Reservations and payment for these events are required in advance. Registration forms that you can print and submit by mail, both for these events and the banquet and ball, are available on the FRA website at www.fra.org/NC2014.
(Wednesday, October 15–Saturday, October 18)
Throughout convention week, there will be a series of workshops available to convention attendees. These seminars are usually held in the early morning (and often include a continental breakfast), at midday (including a light lunch), and/or later in the afternoon. The workshops cover a variety of topics including presentations by TRICARE contractors, financial advisors, representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and members of the NHQ staff.
Installation of officers
(Saturday, October 18)
On the last evening of convention, the newly elected FRA and Auxiliary national officers are installed and take their respective oaths of office. The event is rich in tradition and includes a “capping” ceremony, during which a new officer receives his/her new cap. Regional presidents receive gray caps, while the national president receives a red cap. (Past national presidents are often referred to as “the red hats.”) All shipmates and ladies are invited to attend the formal ceremony and no reservations are required.
Banquet and Ball
(Saturday, October 18)
Immediately following the installation ceremony, shipmates, Auxiliary members and guests are invited to attend the annual banquet and ball. Reservations and payment are required in advance for this event, which is a formal dinner and dance.
The attire for the installation and banquet and ball is formal/semi-formal. National officers traditionally wear tuxedos, but shirt and tie is appropriate for other shipmates. Ladies often wear cocktail dresses or evening gowns.
Post-convention Board meeting
(Sunday, October 19)
Sometimes referred to as the “Post-Board,” this last event of convention week is the post-convention meeting of the National Board of Directors (NBOD). Although not officially part of convention, this meeting is the first opportunity for the newly installed national officers to meet and conduct business. As with the pre-convention meeting, all shipmates are welcome to attend, and will be given an opportunity to speak at the end of the meeting.
The convention hospitality room is open part of each day from October 13–17. It is a casual environment to share food, fellowship, and fun. Beer, wine and liquor are available. The hospitality room is often the site of fundraising raffles and is open to all shipmates and ladies.
Make your reservations early!!
This year’s convention is being held in Corpus Christi, Texas—a well-established tourist destination that welcomes thousands of visitors every day. FRA and Auxiliary members are eligible for a discounted rate of $109 per night (double occupancy) at the Omni Bayfront Hotel, but availability is limited. Attendees are encouraged to make their reservations early by calling (361) 887-1600 and tell them you are with FRA for the discounted room rate.
In addition to hotel reservations, convention delegates are also encouraged to register early for the banquet and special luncheons. A meal reservation form that you can print and submit by mail is available on the FRA website at www.fra.org/NC2014. Shipmates and ladies without Internet access, or those will special dietary needs, may contact Bobbie Pugh at (225) 272-9237.
Don’t miss important updates!
Convention newsletters, meal reservation forms, and updated agenda details are available on the FRA website at www.fra.org/NC2014.
While you’re in the Area
Corpus Christi offers year-round sunshine, beautiful beaches, soft sea breezes and a wide variety of entertainment and attractions that are sure to please. When each day’s sessions are done, you’ll find a city with a rich blend of history, culture, and natural coastal beauty. Take a walk or catch a trolley to natural and man-made attractions, restaurants, and shops around the city.
Your most important resource for suggestions, of course, is local shipmates; members of Branch and Unit 94 are quite familiar with the local attractions, restaurants, and culture. Some of them work or have worked or volunteered at the places we list here and can tell you far more about them than we could write in these pages. Don’t hesitate to seek them out and ask them about their town!
Tour the USS Lexington
Come aboard the USS Lexington (CV-16) and spend an hour or a day experiencing a World War II aircraft carrier in person. Tour the flight deck, feel the thrill of air combat in the Lexington’s state-of-the-art flight simulator, or view three-stories-tall giant screen images accompanied by thundering digital sound in the ship’s fully 3D MEGA Theater.
The Lexington was an important part of our nation’s defense forces for nearly 50 years, and her record in World War II is unparalleled. Decommissioned in 1991, she is now a tribute to those who fought for and died while defending our freedoms. Since she opened to the public in October 1992, the museum relies solely on revenue generated through grants, donations and admissions to operate and improve the facility.
Visitors can choose from five self-guided tours covering 100,000 square feet and 11 decks. Through the wonders of actual flight videos and hydraulic-powered machines, guests can experience the rush of being catapulted from the flight deck to destroy enemy tanks and missile launchers in the flight simulator. The 193-seat MEGA Theater is currently showing Rescue 3D, an epic journey of real-world disaster and emergency response in 3D presentation with unprecedented scale and impact for the giant screen. The hangar deck, pier and MEGA Theater are handicap-accessible, but the ship tours require the ability to climb stairs. According to a local shipmate, they are working on installing a handicap elevator to take guests from the accessible hangar deck up to the flight deck. It is hoped that this elevator will be operational sometime this summer, but it is not guaranteed.
When visiting the Lexington, you can spot the ship’s volunteer staff easily in their yellow shirts. They are eager to answer your questions about the history of the Lexington during WWII and can direct you to specific areas of interest. Most volunteers are veterans of military service, and many FRA shipmates have worked and volunteered aboard her, including Wayne Bortner, 28-year retired U.S. Navy veteran and Vice President of FRA Branch 94 (Corpus Christi). FRA Today caught up with Shipmate Bortner while researching this article, and he told us “I have been a Lexington volunteer for three years, and I invite all conventioneers to visit the Lexington for an exciting day.” For more information on the USS Lexington, visit www.usslexington.com.
Explore the natural beauty of South Texas
Take a stroll through the protected wetland and native habitat of the South Texas Botanical Gardens and Nature Center and discover the wild beauty of the South Texas coast. The expansive grounds feature many ways to get up close and personal with native species of birds, insects, plants and reptiles. Visit www.stxbot.org to learn more about the gardens, educational programs and events offered throughout the year.
Nature lovers will also enjoy a visit to Padre Island National Seashore, a national park located on America’s largest barrier reef. The island is located at the convergence of ocean currents, which deliver a diverse array of unusual objects to its shores, and is also a birdwatcher’s paradise. To learn more about Padre Island National Seashore, visit www.nps.gov/pais.
Museums, art and culture
If you’re looking for a museum that has something for everyone, the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History is just the ticket. Its exhibits explore the historical and cultural landscape of Corpus Christi, the breadth and depth of the local ecology, and beyond. Learn more about the museum and its exhibits at www.ccmuseum.com.
The Texas State Aquarium provides interactive experiences with the marine wildlife that inhabit the bays and estuaries of South Texas and an Amazon exhibit that explores the diverse species of the Amazon and how closely we are connected to the animals and products of the rainforests. Visit www.texasstateaquarium.org to learn more about the aquarium.
The Art Museum of South Texas showcases the beauty of the American Southwest through a variety of artistic media. Its permanent collection includes 1,100 outstanding paintings, drawings, sculptures, prints, collages, ceramics and textiles—the focus of which is fine art and craft of artists from Texas and surrounding states and Mexico. Visit www.stia.org to learn more about the permanent and travelling exhibits at the art museum and to print a coupon for $1 off admission.
Corpus Christi hosts a variety of performing art and cultural venues. Although schedules of specific events are not available at press time, check these websites closer to Convention time to see what performances are scheduled:
Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra:www.ccsymphony.org
Corpus Christi Concert Ballet:www.coastalbendballet.org
The Performing Arts Center at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi: pac.tamucc.edu
Recreation, shopping and dining
No list of things to do in any city is complete without places to relax, have fun, and, of course, eat!
Corpus Christi boasts over 65 miles of beaches, seven golf courses, a Hurricane Alley Waterpark, sailing excursions on a variety of vessels, harbor cruises, watersports of all kinds, freshwater and deepwater fishing and more. Visit www.VisitCorpusChristiTX.org and be sure to check out the “what to see and do” section!
There are innumerable watering holes in Corpus Christi in addition to the two restaurants located on premises at the Omni Bayfront Hotel. There is no way we could list them all here, but we find that word-of-mouth is often the best advertisement. Local Corpus Christi shipmates have pointed out a few great places to get you started, all within walking distance of the Omni and in the $15–$25 price range:
AKA Sushi: serves the best sushi, along with Japanese and Korean food. One shipmate’s first choice in Corpus Christi. 415 Water Street; 361-882-8885
Water Street Bar & Grill: serves seafood, Cajun food, has an oyster bar, also great steaks and chicken.
309 Water Street; 361-882-8683
Crawdaddy’s: serves traditional Cajun crawfish and shrimp boils. Very good, reasonably priced.
414 Starr Street; 361-883-5432
Harrison’s Landing: A floating restaurant and bar that offers a fantastic view of city skyline and marina. Serves burgers, sandwiches, seafood, salads, full beverage service. 108 Peoples Street T-Head; 361-881-8503;
How Many National Conventions Have You Attended?
FRA’s first National Convention was held in 1925 at the Longacre Hotel in Philadelphia, birthplace of the association. At that time, the cost of attending the two-day convention included just one overnight stay ($4) and four meals ($1 apiece), for a total of $8 per delegate! Every year since, except for 1942 and 1943, National Convention has moved from city to city as branches bid to host the event. How many of our National Conventions have you attended? Think back and see if you can answer the April challenge question: how many times has National Convention been held in the state of Texas in the past 20 years (1994–2013)?
Last month, we listed several health and quality-of-life benefits to which shipmates are entitled, and asked if you could identify one that FRA has not been instrumental in preserving or bringing about. If you guessed None of the Above, you were correct! FRA has fought hard for all of the listed benefits and many more, and continues to do so thanks to the support of our shipmates!
Lauren Armstrong is the Contributing Editor and Member of the FRA Auxiliary. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Return to Table of Contents