NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

America’s boldest advocate for military veterans is celebrating 103 years of service.

Congress officially chartered the American Legion on Sept. 16, 1919, to serve veterans, service members and communities following World War I.

The group quickly evolved from “war-weary” veterans to “one of the most influential nonprofit groups in the United States,” according to the American Legion’s website.

GOLD STAR FAMILIES LOVE AMERICA ‘PASSIONATELY’: LESSONS FROM NONPROFIT’S COMMEMORATIVE JOURNEY

American Legion spokesperson John Raughter told Fox News Digital that the organization’s long-lasting legacy has been remarkable yet tireless, as legionnaires nationwide have carried on their service “long after they hang up their military uniforms.”

Mitch Laing of the American Legion Riders holds a flag with other members of the group outside the Performing Arts Center before a memorial service for Christine Loeber, Dr. Jennifer Gray Golick and Jennifer Gonzales Shushereba, on March 19, 2018, in Yountville, Calif.

Mitch Laing of the American Legion Riders holds a flag with other members of the group outside the Performing Arts Center before a memorial service for Christine Loeber, Dr. Jennifer Gray Golick and Jennifer Gonzales Shushereba, on March 19, 2018, in Yountville, Calif. (Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

“From the drafting of the original GI Bill in 1944 to the passage of the Honoring Our PACT Act in 2022, The American Legion’s history over 103 years is one of significant accomplishment and service,” he said.

Raughter also said via email, “With current issues such as veteran suicide and transitional challenges faced by Global War on Terrorism veterans, The American Legion will continue to be the leading advocate for the men and women of the Armed Forces for the next 103 years and beyond.”

next Image 1 of 2

A Memorial Day celebration at American Legion Post 482 in Scio, Ohio, on May 30, 1924. (Minnesota Historical Society/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

american legion new orleans prev Image 2 of 2

The reviewing stand for the American Legion convention parade in New Orleans was erected in front of the city hall on Charles Street. Prominent reviewing officers are shown in the front row, center, above; from left to right, Commissioner of Public Safety Stanley W. Ray, Samuel Gompers, Judge Kenshaw, Mountain Landis and (second from Judge Landis), Andrew McShane, mayor, on Oct. 1, 1922. (Getty Images)

Here’s a brief history of the American Legion’s standout accomplishments over the last century, according to the Legion itself. 

The first Legion convention took place on Nov. 10, 1919, in Minneapolis. There, delegates voted for their national headquarters to be in Indianapolis.

As membership grew quickly, local chapters popped up across the country, allowing for more veterans to become involved.

9/11 PROMISE RUN: ANNUAL RACE FROM PENTAGON TO GROUND ZERO PROVIDES ‘GOD MOMENTS,’ FOUNDER SAYS

On Aug. 9, 1921, the Legion’s efforts led to the U.S. Veterans Bureau, which preceded the Veterans Administration.

The organization continues to lobby for funding to cover veterans’ benefits, including medical, disability and education, through these agencies today.

The Oakland, California, boys' baseball team defeated the boys' team from Worcester, Massachusetts, 4-0, in the opening game of the American Legion's Junior World Series at Oomiskey Park on Aug. 1, 1928. 

The Oakland, California, boys’ baseball team defeated the boys’ team from Worcester, Massachusetts, 4-0, in the opening game of the American Legion’s Junior World Series at Oomiskey Park on Aug. 1, 1928. (George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images)

On July 17, 1925, the American Legion Baseball program was created for youths; it graduates about 50% of Major League Baseball players. 

Amid World War II, the American Legion changed the verbiage of the preamble of its constitution from “war” to “wars” for the first and only time in September 1942.

american legion 1937 next Image 1 of 2

Retiring National Commander Harry Colmery of Topeka, Kansas, is pictured (above left) with his successor, National Commander Daniel J. Doherty, of Woburn, Massachusetts, after the latter was elected at the American Legion Convention in the Metropolitan Opera House on Jan. 1, 1937. (Getty Images)

american legion billboard prev Image 2 of 2

An American Legion billboard in Brownwood, Texas, on November 1939. (Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the original GI bill into law on June 22, 1944, offering veterans better educational, professional and financial opportunities in the U.S.

In 1950, the American Legion voted to contribute funding to mental health fields, which was a catalyst for launching the National Association for Mental Health.

ARMY VETERAN REGAINS ABILITY TO WALK WITH ROBOTIC EXOSKELETON AFTER PARALYSIS: ‘BEYOND WORDS’

The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation was established on July 9, 1954. Today, it’s blossomed into more than $11 million awarded to youth organizations and projects to help America’s children.

JFK american legion next Image 1 of 2

Complete with Legion cap on his head, then-Sen. John F. Kennedy addresses the 42nd National Convention of the American Legion in Miami Beach, Fla. Kennedy shared the speaker’s platform with Vice President Richard M. Nixon on Oct. 18, 1960. (Getty Images)

boston american legion prev Image 2 of 2

A portrait of members of the American Legion, South Boston post, number 6536, showing a resolute and determined appearance in Boston, 1971. (Spencer Grant/Getty Images)

The organization became greatly involved amid outcry during the Vietnam War in the 1960s — and today it still requires a full accounting of POWs and troops missing in action.

A $1 million check was granted by the Legion to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund to construct the Wall in Washington in 1982.

AMERICA’S MILITARY AND VETERANS WITH PTSD HAVE A FIGHTING CHANCE TO HEAL

After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the American Legion stepped up by reactivating the Family Support Network and creating the American Legacy Scholarship Fund for children of military killed on or after 9/11.

Dozens of youngsters from more than 120 area schools paraded through downtown Denver, Colo., with flags on June 12, 1976. The Flag Day parade was sponsored by Leyden-Chiles-Wickersham Post. No. 1, American Legion. 

Dozens of youngsters from more than 120 area schools paraded through downtown Denver, Colo., with flags on June 12, 1976. The Flag Day parade was sponsored by Leyden-Chiles-Wickersham Post. No. 1, American Legion. (Ira Gay Sealy/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Now, the American Legion has nearly two million members in more than 13,000 posts, including international and U.S. territory chapters in Puerto Rico, France, Mexico and the Philippines.

Richard Pecci, a Vietnam veteran and the current commander of his local American Legion — Admiral Farrugut Post 1195 in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y. — reflected on his membership in comments to Fox News Digital.

“The American Legion means so much to me,” he said. 

On the left, Richard Pecci at 20 years old, in Tay Ninh, Vietnam, in 1967; on the right, Pecci of Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, in 2019. 

On the left, Richard Pecci at 20 years old, in Tay Ninh, Vietnam, in 1967; on the right, Pecci of Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, in 2019. (James Quick/Linda Loeb)

“They’ve given me the opportunity to serve other veterans in my community and assist others, going to classrooms to educate and mentor young people.”

He added, “We raise funds for all kinds of causes, such as youth scholarships and veteran assistance programs.”

CLICK TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“More importantly,” said Pecci of the Legion, “we have a place for other veterans to go where they feel safe and know that there’s somebody else there who went through what they did.”

Angelica Stabile is a lifestyle writer for Fox News Digital. Follow her on Twitter at @atstabile.

Source Link:
https://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/the-american-legion-103-brief-history-organization-aid-wwi-veterans

Comments

comments

Advertisement