American Legion Day - Sept. 16

The Beginning of The American Legion

In American history, post-war groups are not new. Both armies developed post-war groups after 1861-1865's Civil War. Former Union troops formed the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), and former Confederates formed the UCV (UCV). Both groups advocated for the Republican (GAR) and Democratic (UCV) parties. After the Spanish-American War in 1898, former soldiers founded the American Veterans of Foreign Service, today called Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW).

In 1915, as the first World War spread turmoil across the globe,  Arthur Hoffman, a magazine editor, and Stephen Reynolds, a writer, worried about the U.S. In 1915, they formed the American Legion. Pre-war groups were new, and the American Legion advocated for a stronger military to prepare for war.

Arthur Hoffman, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Taft were key Legion officers. The Legion had 23,000 members who promised to fight in WWI, thus the government created two air mechanic units. The American Legion ended in 1917, when the US joined the war.

The American Legion Post WWI

With the war concluded, the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) recruited men were now stranded in France. Logistically, it would take weeks or months to return. Due to this, their spirits sank and their impatience spread across the troops. Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt Jr. saw this as an urgent concern in January 1919 and sought assistance to develop an organization that would cover all AEF and stateside soldiers because the original American Legion was dissolved. 20 non-career officers were requested to meet regular Army commanders at the YMCA in Paris on February 15, 1919.

Three days after the meeting, the officers prepared ideas to reduce restrictive restrictions and organize leisure events for stranded soldiers. With universal approval from the troops, Roosevelt and other leaders agreed to organize a convention to create a new veterans' group. The conference was in Paris, and all enlisted members may attend and speak. After months of establishing caucuses around the nation, Congress awarded the American Legion a national charter on September 16, 1919.

The first convention met in Minneapolis two months after The Legion was chartered. The delegates agreed that the American Legion would remain nonpartisan. Instead, it lobbied for veterans' rights and benefits. Some of the concepts they pushed for were enhanced compensation for handicapped WWI troops and a bonus for unemployed veterans. The American Legion created the U.S. Veterans' Bureau, now the Department of Veterans Affairs, in 1930. (VA).

In the Department of Veterans Affairs' history, the American Legion was instrumental in crafting and passing the G.I. Bill. This measure has helped millions of service personnel graduate, buy homes, and find better employment.

The Legion is also credited with inventing the first "Flag Code," which Congress accepted in 1942 and continues to refine. Other recent Legion accomplishments include funding the Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., elevating the Veterans Administration to Cabinet-level status, creating the Citizen Flag Alliance (an organization that protects the U.S. flag from physical desecration), partnering with the Smithsonian Institute, passing the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act and the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform Act of 2009, etc.

Today Globally, the American Legion has 2 million members and 13,000 posts. The jobs are divided into 55 departments—50 for each state, D.C., Puerto Rico, France, Mexico, and the Philippines.

How to Join

To be eligible to join The American Legion, you must:

  • Be a veteran who served at least one day of active duty during wartime* or are currently serving
  • Have been honorably discharged or still serving honorably
  • Have been a Merchant Marine who served from December 7, 1941 - December 31, 1946 (World War II).
  • *Wartime Dates are:
    • Persian Gulf/War on Terrorism: August 2, 1990 to Today
    • Operation Just Cause- Panama:December 20, 1989 to January 31, 1990
    • Lebanon/Grenada: August 24, 1982 to July 31, 1984
    • Vietnam: February 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975
    • Korea: June 25, 1950 to January 31, 1955
    • World War II: December 7, 1941 to December 31, 1946
    • World War I: April 6, 1917 To November 11, 1918

To learn more or to join, please visit:

To find a post near you, where you can celebrate or donate, visit:

Sep 12, 2022 Guest

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