- American Legion
:"For other uses of American Legion, see
American Legion (disambiguation)"The American Legion was chartered by the U.S. Congress as a patriotic, mutual-help, wartime veterans organization of the United States armed forces who served during a wartime period as defined by Congress. The American Legion was founded in 1919 by veterans returning from Europe after World War Iand is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indianaand also has offices in Washington D.C.. The group has nearly 3 million members in over 14,000 Posts worldwide. [ [http://www.legion.org/homepage.php Welcome to the American Legion Online ] ]
In addition to organizing commemorative events and volunteer activities, the American Legion is active in U.S. politics. While its primary political activity is lobbying on the behalf of the interests of veterans, service members including support for
veterans benefitssuch as pensionsand the Veterans Affairs hospital system, it has also been involved in more general political issues, generally taking a conservative position. Most criticism of the Legion is based on its political activities.
The American Legion at the state level, also known as Departments, run an annual civic training event for high school juniors called
Boys State. Two members from each Boys State are selected for Boys Nation. The American Legion Auxiliaryruns Girls Stateand Girls Nation. The American Legion also hosts many social events.
The group holds a
congressional charterunder Title 36 of the United States Code.
The American Legion's "Post Officers Guide" recounts the organization's founding:
"A group of twenty officers who served in the
American Expeditionary Forces(A.E.F.) in France in World War I is credited with planning the Legion. A.E.F. Headquarters asked these officers to suggest ideas on how to improve troop morale. One officer, Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., proposed an organization of veterans. In 1919, this group formed a temporary committee and selected several hundred officers who had the confidence and respect of the whole army. When the first organization meeting took place in Parisin March, 1919, about 1,000 officers and enlisted men attended. The meeting, known as the Paris Caucus, adopted a temporary constitution and the name The American Legion. It also elected an executive committee to complete the organization’s work. It considered each soldier of the A.E.F. a member of the Legion. The executive committee named a subcommittee to organize veterans at home in the U.S. The Legion held a second organizing caucus in St. Louis, Missouri, in May 1919.
As is confirmed by The National Library of the American Legion and its official supporting documents, the first post of the American Legion is George Washington Post 1 in Washington, D.C. Organized March 7, 1919, it obtained the first charter issued to any post of The American Legion on May 19, 1919. Originally, the post was named the “General John Joseph Pershing Post Number 1” in part to its members’ sincere admiration of Pershing as a man, as well as their appreciation for his career as a soldier in the United States Army. However, at the St. Louis caucus that same year, members decided that posts of the American Legion should not be named after living persons, and therefore the "Pioneer Post" was given its new and current name. The post completed the constitution and made plans for a permanent organization. It set up temporary headquarters in
New York Cityand began its relief, employment, and Americanism programs.
Congress granted the American Legion a national charter in September, 1919. Among the founders was
Ernest O. Thompson(1892-1966) of Texas, later Lieutenant General of the Texas National Guard, a member of the Texas Railroad Commission, and an expert on petroleumissues.
The first national convention of the American Legion was held from November 10-12, 1919, in
Minneapolis, Minnesota, at which time the attendees adopted a permanent constitution and elected officers to head the organization. The original purpose of the Legion was to "preserve the memories and incidents of our association in the great war". Prior to World War I, few rural, working-class, or even middle-class Americans traveled to Europe. For a majority of urban Americans, their understanding of Europe had been acquired through the European immigrants they knew. Thus the 2 million Americans who had served in the American Expeditionary Forces had very different experiences than their families, friends and neighbors. The American Legion allowed these young men and women who had served "Over There" to re-integrate into their hometowns and to still remain in contact with others who had been abroad. The Legion served as a support group, a social club and a type of extended family for former service men and women.
Some Legion groups engaged in strikebreaking activities during this time and into the 1930s. In 1919, a new American Legion group in Washington was involved in the
Centralia Massacre (Washington).
The American Legion was very active in the 1920s. It was instrumental in the creation of the
U.S. Veterans' Bureau, now known as the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Legion also created its own American Legion Baseball Program. Commander Travers D. Carmen awarded Charles Lindberghits "Distinguished Service Medal," the medal's first recipient, on July 22, 1927. American Legion national convention was held in Paris, France in September 1927. A major part of this was drum and bugle corps competition in which approximately 14,000 members took part.
American Legion Politics
Industrial Workers of the Worldhad attempted to organize longshoremen, sailors and fishermen in the 1920s through their Maritime Workers Union. The largest strike, in San Pedro, California in 1923, bottled up shipping in that harbor, but was crushed by a combination of injunctions, mass arrests and vigilantism by the American Legion.
In 1930, the American Legion Memorial Bridge in
Traverse City, Michigan, was completed. In that year, the Traverse City city commission decided to purchase dedication plaques for $100 at the request of the American Legion. [ [http://www.michigan.gov/mdot/0,1607,7-151-9620_11154_11188-28476--,00.html Information on the American Legion Memorial Bridge (Michigan Department of Transportation Web Site)] ]
By 1931, membership of the American Legion had reached 1 million.
The Sons of the American Legion formed at the American Legion's 14th National Convention in
Portland, Oregon, on September 12-15, 1932. Membership is limited to the male descendants of members of the American Legion, or deceased individuals who served in the armed forces of the United States during times specified by the American Legion. In 2007, The Sons of the American Legion celebrated 75 years of service to God and Country. The organization has more than 300,000 members.
According to congressional testimony in the 1930s, several of the American Legion's leaders, including its original bankroller
Irénée du Pont, plotted a fascist coupagainst the Government of Franklin D. Rooseveltcalled the Business Plot. According to testimony, the plot was averted because Major General Smedley Butlerwarned Roosevelt of the plan.
In 1935, the first Boys' State (
Premier Boys State) convened in Springfield, Illinois.
The American Legion's first National High School Oratorical Contest was held in 1938.
In 1942, the original charter of the American Legion was changed in order to allow veterans of
World War IIto join. Throughout the 1940s, the American Legion was very active in providing support for veterans and soldiers who fought in World War II. The American Legion campaigned for the G.I. Bill, which was signed into law in June 1944.
The first Boys Nation program was held in 1946.
The American Legion asked for a congressional investigation into the ACLU for their petitioning to end loyalty-oath laws for public workers such as school teachers during the red scare. [http://encarta.msn.com/text_761578247__1/American_Civil_Liberties_Union.html]
Veterans of the
Korean Warwere approved for membership in the American Legion in 1950.
The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation was formed in 1954.
May 30, 1969, the Cabin John Bridge, which carried the Capital Beltway (I-495) across the Potomac River northwest of Washington, D.C., was officially renamed to the " American Legion Memorial Bridge" in a ceremony led by Lt. Gen. Lewis B. Hershey, director of the U.S. Selective Service System. [ "Cabin John Bridge Given a New Name", Washington Post, Times Herald (Washington, D.C.): City Life Section, May 31, 1969 ]
In 1976, an outbreak of bacterial
pneumoniaoccurred among those attending a convention of the American Legion at The Bellevue Stratford Hotelin Philadelphia. This form of pneumonia became known as Legionnaires' disease, or Legionellosis. The bacterium that causes the illness was later named " Legionella".
After a 1989 U.S. Supreme Court decision, the American Legion launched and funded an unsuccessful campaign to win a constitutional amendment against harming the flag of the United States. The Legion formed the Citizens' Flag Honor Guard and it later became
Citizens Flag Alliance. [http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Citizens_Flag_Alliance]
In 1993, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts renamed a bridge in the city of Chicopee to the "American Legion Memorial Bridge". [ [http://archives.lib.state.ma.us/actsResolves/1993/1993acts0091.pdf Archives, Library of the State of Massachusetts] Retrieved June 11, 2007 ]
Also in 1993, two members of Garden City,
MichiganAmerican Legion Post 396 shared an idea that would bond motorcycle enthusiasts in the Legion from the idea of Chuck Dare and post commander Bill Kaledas, the American Legion Riders was born. Joined by 19 other founding members the group soon found itself inundated with requests for information about the new group. As a source of information [http://www.americanlegionriders.net a website] was set up, and it continues to be a source of information worldwide.
In a letter to U.S. President
Bill Clintonin May 1999, the American Legion urged the immediate withdrawal of American troops from Operation Allied Forcein Yugoslavia. The National Executive Committee of The American Legion met and adopted a resolution unanimously that stated, in part, that they would only support military operations if "Guidelines be established for the mission, including a clear exit strategy" and "That there be support of the mission by the U.S. Congressand the American people". [http://web.archive.org/web/19991217104012/http://www.legion.org/yugoltr.htm] [http://billmon.org/archives/002107.html]
The Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee,
Steve Buyer(R-Ind.), announced that he planned to eliminate the annual congressional hearings for Veterans Service Organizations that was established by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In response, National Commander of the American Legion Thomas L. Bock had the following to say:
"I am extremely disappointed in Chairman Buyer's latest effort to ignore the Veterans Service Organizations. Eliminating annual hearings before a joint session of the Veterans Affairs Committees will lead to continued budgetary shortfalls for VA resulting in veterans being underserved." [http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=56576]
By 2007, the American Legion Riders program has grown to over 600 chapters in the United States and overseas.
Membership eligibility requirements
Eligibility for American Legion membership is limited to those honorably discharged veterans and current personnel of the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard or Air Force who served at least one day of active duty during any of the following periods:
DATES OF ELIGIBILITY
* WORLD WAR I: April 6, 1917, to November 11, 1918
* WORLD WAR II: December 7, 1941, to December 31, 1946
U.S. Merchant Marineeligibility runs Dec. 7, 1941, to Aug. 16, 1945.
* KOREA: June 25, 1950, to January 31, 1955
* VIETNAM: February 28, 1961, to May 7, 1975
Note: Some sources incorrectly begin Vietnam eligibility on Dec. 22, 1961, but the official start date is Feb. 28, 1961.
* LEBANON // GRENADA: August 24, 1982, to July 31, 1984
* PANAMA: December 20, 1989, to January 31, 1990
* GULF WARS (Desert Shield // Desert Storm //
Operation Iraqi Liberation// et al): August 2, 1990, through today — and continuing until cessation of hostilities as determined by the U.S. government; open eligibility thus applies to ALL current active-duty service members.
[http://www.legion.org/?section=our_legion&subsection=ol_posts&content=postofficerguide Link to The American Legion Post Officers Guide]
[http://www.legion.org/?section=help&subsection=help_faq&content=help_faq#two From The American Legion Questions and Answers page] :
Q: How do I know if I am eligible for membership in The American Legion?
A: Our organization was founded on the premise that all those serving in the U.S. Armed Forces during times of national crisis, regardless of place of service, are eligible to belong to The American Legion. Our membership is based on period of service, not place of service. Therefore, if you have served at least one day of "active duty" during the eligibility dates, are presently serving in the military or have been honorably discharged, you may become a member. Certain members of the Merchant Marines are also eligible for the American Legion if they served overseas during World War II through the Vietnam War. For details, prospective members should contact any American Legion Post Adjutant.
The Post is the basic unit of the Legion and usually represents a small geographic area such as a single town or part of a county. There are roughly 14,900 posts in the United States. The Post is used for formal business such as meetings and a coordination point for community service projects. Often the Post will host community events such as Bingo, Hunter breakfasts, holiday celebrations, and etc. It is also not uncommon for the Post to contain a bar open during limited hours.
Each Department is divided into Divisions and/or Districts. Each District oversees several Posts, generally about 20, to help each smaller group have a larger voice. Divisions are even larger groups of about 4 or more Districts. The main purpose of these "larger" groups (Districts - Divisions) are to allow one or two delegates to represent an area at conferences, conventions, and other gatherings, where large numbers of Legionnaires may not be able to attend.
The Posts are grouped together into a state level organization known as a Department for the purposes of coordination and administration. There is a total of 55 Departments; one for each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, France, Mexico, and the Philippines. Canada was merged into Department of New York several years ago. The 3 Departments located overseas are intended to allow active duty military stationed and veterans living overseas to be actively involved with the American Legion similar to as if they were back in the states. The Department of France [http://www.alfrance.freeservers.com/] consists of 29 Posts located in 10 European counties, the Department of Mexico [http://www.amlegion-mexico.org/] consists of 22 Posts located in Central America, and the Department of Philippines covers Asia and the Pacific Islands.
The main American Legion Headquarters is located on the Indiana War Memorial Plaza in Indianapolis. It is the primary office for the National Commander and also houses the historical archives, library, Membership, Internal Affairs, Public Relations, and the Magazine editorial offices. The Legion also owns a building in Washington D.C. that contains many of the operation offices such as Economics, Legislative, Veterans Affairs, Foreign Relations, National Security, and Media Relations, and etc. [http://www.legion.org/?section=our_legion&subsection=ol_ntlheadqtrs&content=ol_ntlheadqtrs]
List of National Commanders
Franklin D'Olier Pennsylvania1919-1920
Frederick W. Galbraith, Jr. Ohio1920-1921
John G. Emery Michigan June 14, 1921- November 2, 1921
Hanford MacNider Iowa1921-1922
Alvin M. Owsley Texas1922-1923
John R. Quinn California1923-1924
James A Drain Washington1924-1925
John R. McQuigg Ohio1925-1926
Howard P. Savage Illinois1926-1927
Edward E. Spafford New York1927-1928
Paul Vories McNutt Indiana1928-1929
O. L. Bodenhamer Arkansas1929-1930
Ralph T. O'Neil Kansas1930-1931
Henry L. Stevens, Jr. North Carolina1931-1932
Louis A. Johnson West Virginia1932-1933
Edward A. Hayes Illinois1933-1934
Frank N. Belgrano California1934-1935
Ray Murphy Iowa1935-1936
Harry W. Colmery Kansas1936-1937
Daniel Doherty Massachusetts1937-1938
Stephen F. Chadwick Washington1938-1939
Raymond J. Kelly Michigan1939-1940
Milo J. Warner Ohio1940-1941
Lynn U. Stambaugh North Dakota1941-1942
Roane Waring Tennessee1942-1943
Warren Atherton California1943-1944
Edward N. Scheiberling New York1944-1945
John Stelle Illinois1945-1946
Paul H. Griffith Pennsylvania1946-1947
James F. O'Neal New Hampshire1947-1948
S. Perry Brown Texas1948-1949
George N. Craig Indiana1949-1950
Erle Cocke, Jr.Georgia 1950-1951
Donald R. Wilson West Virginia1951-1952
Lewis K. Gough California1952-1953
Arthur J. Connell Connecticut1953-1954
Seaborn P. Collins New Mexico1954-1955
J. Addington Wagner Michigan1955-1956
Dan Daniel Virginia1956-1957
John S. Gleason, Jr. Illinois1957-1958
Preston J. Moore Oklahoma1958-1959
Martin B. McKneally New York1959-1960
William R. Burke California1960-1961
Charles L. Bacon Missouri1961-1962
James E. PowersGeorgia 1962-1963
Hon. Daniel F. Foley Minnesota1963-1964
Donald E. Johnson Iowa1964-1965
L. Eldon James Virginia1965-1966
John E. Davis North Dakota1966-1967
William E. Galbraith Nebraska1967-1968
William C. Doyle New Jersey1968-1969
J. Milton Patrick Oklahoma1969-1970
Alfred P. Chamie California1970-1971
John H. Geiger Illinois 1971-1972
Joe L. Matthews Texas1972-1973
Robert E. L. Earon Maryland1972-1973
James M. Wagonseller Ohio1974-1975
Harry G. Wiles Kansas1975-1976
William J. Rogers Maine1976-1977
Robert Charles Smith Louisiana1977-1978
John M. Carey Michigan1978-1979
Frank I. Hamilton Indiana1979-1980
Michael J. Kogutek New York1980-1981
Jack W. Flynt Texas1981-1982
Al Keller, Jr. Illinois1982-1983
Keith A. Kreul Wisconsin1983-1984
Clarence M. Bacon Maryland1984-1985
Dale L. Renaud Iowa1985-1986
Hon. James P. Dean Mississippi1986-1987
John P. Jake Cower Massachusetts1987-1988
Hon. H. F. Sparky North Dakota1988-1989
Miles E. Epling West Virginia1989-1990
Robert S. TurnerGeorgia 1990-1991
Dominic D. DiFrancesco Pennsylvania1991-1992
Roger A. Munson Ohio1992-1993
Bruce Thiesen California1993-1994
William M. Detweiler Louisiana1994-1995
Daniel A. Ludwig Minnesota1995-1996
Joseph J. Frank Missouri1996-1997
Anthony G. Jordan Maine1997-1998
Butch L. Miller Indiana1998-1999
Hon. Alan G. Lance Idaho1999-2000
Ray G. Smith North Carolina2000-2001
Richard Santos Maryland2001-2002
Ronald F. Conley Pennsylvania2002-2003
John A. Brieden Texas2003-2004
Thomas P. Cadmus Michigan2004–2005
Thomas L. Bock Colorado2005–2006
Paul A. Morin Massachusetts2006-2007
Martin “Marty” Conatser Illinois2007- 2008
David Rehbein Iowa August 28, 2008- present
References in popular culture
John Dos Passosincluded in his U.S.A. trilogya detailed description of the Centralia Massacre, taking the IWWside in this affair.
The 1949 story "
The Long Watch", by science fictionwriter Robert A. Heinlein, was commissioned by the American Legion and published in the Legion's magazine. However, the story was reportedly "heavily edited" before being published - presumably because its theme - a one-man rebellion by a future space officer who sacrifices his life to foil a military coup and the use of nuclear weapons on civilian populations - can be read both as extolling patriotic self-sacrifice and as extolling rebelliousness and disobedience.
On their 1989 album, "
Key Lime Pie", the alternative rock band Camper Van Beethovenreferenced the American Legion in their song " When I Win The Lottery", with the lyrics,
And when I win the lottery, gonna buy the house next to Mr. Red, White and Blue, and when I win the lottery, gonna buy Post 306 American Legion, paint it red with five gold stars.
In chapter 9 of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "
The Great Gatsby", it's revealed that Jay Gatsby was a member of the American Legion.
Veterans organizations of the United States
Veterans Service Organizations
* [http://www.legion.org The American Legion]
Veterans of Foreign Wars
* [http://www.amvets.org/ AmVets - American Veterans]
* [http://www.dav.org/ DAV - Disabled American Veterans]
Grand Army of the Republic(historical organization)
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
Sons of Confederate Veterans
Marine Corps League
Air Force Association
Air Force Sergeants Association
Veterans for Peace
* [http://www.ncoausa.org/ Non-Commissioned/Noncommissioned Officers Association]
Official U.S. Government Resources
* [http://www.va.gov/ U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA)] — formerly Veterans Administration
* [http://www1.va.gov/vso/index.cfm?template=view DVA list of Veterans Service Organizations]
* [http://www.military.com/PBC/PBC_SignIn/1,13152,,00.html? Military.com benefits registration]
Veterans organizations in other countries
The Royal British Legion
Royal Canadian Legion
Returned and Services League of Australia
Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association
* [http://www.legion.org American Legion National Headquarters site]
* [http://www.sal.legion.org Sons of the American Legion site]
* [http://www.muddyboots.net/vsi/central_ny/egay.html Position on the Enola Gay exhibit]
* [http://www.gutenberg.org/files/14478/14478-h/14478-h.htm Story of the American Legion by George Seay Wheat (1919)]
*Whmc stl photodb|keywords=American+Legion|title=American Legion
* [http://www.legion.org/h2h The American Legion's national partnership with DOD to welcome home our wounded warriors]
* [http://www.operationprovidecomfort.us American Legion Post 295's support of the wounded at Bethesda and Walter Reed Hospitals]
* [http://www.steveleader.com/legion.htm American Legion National Convention Medals]
* [http://www.americanlegionalabama.org/ Alabama, The American Legion - Department of Alabama]
* [http://www.allegionpost7.org/ Alabama, American Legion Post No. 7, Alabama]
* [http://www.floridalegion.org/ Florida, Department of Florida]
* [http://www.legion5thdistrict.com/ Florida, 5th District of Florida]
* [http://www.americanlegion137.com/ Florida, American Legion Lakeshore Post 137, Jacksonville, Florida]
* [http://www.americanlegion137.com/menu/sal_main.asp Florida, Sons of the American Legion Squadron 137, Jacksonville, Florida]
* [http://www.Post149.org/ Nevada, American Legion Paradise Post 149, Las Vegas, Nevada]
* [http://www.txlegion.org/home/ Texas, The American Legion - Department of Texas]
* [http://www.tomballamlegion.org/ Texas, American Legion Post 127, Tomball, Texas]
* [http://www.valegion.org/ Virginia, American Legion Department of Virginia]
* Richard Seelye Jones. "A History of the American Legion" (1946)
* Thomas B. Littlewood. "Soldiers Back Home: The American Legion in Illinois, 1919-1939" (2004)
* William Pencak. "For God & Country: The American Legion, 1919-1941" (1989)
* Thomas A. Rumer. "The American Legion: An Official History, 1919-1989" (1990)
* George Seldes. "The George Seldes Reader." Barricade Books, 1994
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Look at other dictionaries:
American Legion — [ə merɪkən liːdʒən], Verband der Kriegsteilnehmer in den USA, gegründet 1919 in Paris, tritt für den sozialen Schutz der Kriegsveteranen ein. Politisch verbindet er einen entschiedenen Patriotismus mit einem antigewerkschaftlichen Kurs und… … Universal-Lexikon
American Legion — n. an organization of veterans of the armed forces of the U.S., founded in 1919 … English World dictionary
American Legion — a society, organized in 1919, composed of veterans of the armed forces of the U.S. * * * Organization of U.S. war veterans. Founded in 1919, it works for the care of disabled and sick veterans and promotes compensation and pensions for the… … Universalium
American Legion — Die Amerikanische Legion (engl. American Legion) ist eine Veteranenorganisation der US Army. Neben Gedenkveranstaltungen und sozialen Veranstaltungen betätigt sich die Amerikanische Legion in der US Politik. Dabei liegt ein Schwerpunkt auf der… … Deutsch Wikipedia
American Legion — L American Legion est une association de vétérans de l armée des États Unis. L organisation fut fondée en 1919 par d anciens combattants de retour de la Première Guerre mondiale et a son siège à Indianapolis. Elle compte environ trois millions de … Wikipédia en Français
American Legion — (inglés: Legión estadounidense). Organización de veteranos de guerra estadounidenses. Fundada en 1919, se ocupa del cuidado de ex combatientes minusválidos y enfermos, y promueve el otorgamiento de indemnizaciones y pensiones a los discapacitados … Enciclopedia Universal
American Legion — American Le|gion, the a national organization for former members of the US armed forces … Dictionary of contemporary English
American Legion — Amer′ican Le′gion n. a society, organized in 1919, composed of veterans of the U.S. armed forces … From formal English to slang
American Legion — /əˌmɛrɪkən ˈlidʒən/ (say uh.merikuhn leejuhn) noun a society, organised in 1919, composed of former members of the US armed forces who served in World Wars I and II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars … Australian English dictionary
American Legion — noun the largest organization of United States war veterans • Hypernyms: ↑association • Member Meronyms: ↑Legionnaire, ↑veteran, ↑vet, ↑ex serviceman … Useful english dictionary