American Legion

American Legion

Overview
The American Legion is a mutual-aid organization of veteran
Veteran
A veteran is a person who has had long service or experience in a particular occupation or field; " A veteran of ..."...

s of the United States armed forces
Military of the United States
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

 chartered
Congressional charter
A congressional charter is a law passed by the United States Congress that states the mission, authority and activities of a group. Congress issued federal charters from 1791 until 1992 under Title 36 of the United States Code....

 by the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

. It was founded to benefit those veterans 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 I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, and was later chartered under Title 36 of the United States Code
Title 36 of the United States Code
Title 36 of the United States Code outlines the role of Patriotic Societies and Observances in the United States Code.*Subtitle I—Patriotic and National Observances and Ceremonies*Subtitle II—Patriotic and National Organizations...

. The organization is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana
Indianapolis, Indiana
Indianapolis is the capital of the U.S. state of Indiana, and the county seat of Marion County, Indiana. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population is 839,489. It is by far Indiana's largest city and, as of the 2010 U.S...

, and also has offices in Washington, D.C.
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Encyclopedia
The American Legion is a mutual-aid organization of veteran
Veteran
A veteran is a person who has had long service or experience in a particular occupation or field; " A veteran of ..."...

s of the United States armed forces
Military of the United States
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

 chartered
Congressional charter
A congressional charter is a law passed by the United States Congress that states the mission, authority and activities of a group. Congress issued federal charters from 1791 until 1992 under Title 36 of the United States Code....

 by the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

. It was founded to benefit those veterans 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 I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, and was later chartered under Title 36 of the United States Code
Title 36 of the United States Code
Title 36 of the United States Code outlines the role of Patriotic Societies and Observances in the United States Code.*Subtitle I—Patriotic and National Observances and Ceremonies*Subtitle II—Patriotic and National Organizations...

. The organization is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana
Indianapolis, Indiana
Indianapolis is the capital of the U.S. state of Indiana, and the county seat of Marion County, Indiana. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population is 839,489. It is by far Indiana's largest city and, as of the 2010 U.S...

, and also has offices in Washington, D.C. The group has nearly 3 million members in over 14,000 Posts worldwide.

In addition to organizing commemorative events and volunteer veteran support activities, the American Legion is active in issue U.S. politics
Politics of the United States
The United States is a federal constitutional republic, in which the President of the United States , Congress, and judiciary share powers reserved to the national government, and the federal government shares sovereignty with the state governments.The executive branch is headed by the President...

. Its primary political activity is lobbying on behalf of the interests of veterans and service members, including support for veterans benefits
Veterans benefits
Throughout history war veterans have received compensation. Roman soldiers were given rewards at the end of their service including cash or land . Augustus fixed the amount in AD 5 at 3000 denarii and by the time of Caracalla it had risen to 5000 denarii...

 such as pensions and the Veterans Affairs
United States Department of Veterans Affairs
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs is a government-run military veteran benefit system with Cabinet-level status. It is the United States government’s second largest department, after the United States Department of Defense...

 hospital system. The Legion has also been involved as a conservative voice in more general political and cultural issues.

At the state level, the American Legion is organized into "departments", which run annual civic training events for high school juniors called Boys State. Two members from each Boys State are selected for Boys Nation
Boys Nation
Boys Nation is an annual civic training event run by the American Legion.Each year, two delegates in the summer after their junior year of high school are selected from each of the forty-nine American Legion Boys State programs in the U.S....

. The American Legion Auxiliary
American Legion Auxiliary
The American Legion Auxiliary is a U.S.-headquartered patriotic service organization for women interested in voluntary service. It is a non-profit organization, affiliated with The American Legion...

 runs Girls State and Girls Nation
Girls Nation
Girls Nation is an annual civic training event run by the American Legion Auxiliary. It is analogous to Boys Nation.The first American Legion Auxiliary Girls Nation was held August 9-August 14, 1947, with 82 girls and 41 states participating. It has been held each year subsequently...

. The American Legion also hosts many social events.

Founding and early years



The American Legion credits a group of twenty officers who served in the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in France in World War I with planning the Legion. AEF Headquarters asked these officers to suggest ideas for improving troop morale. Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.
Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.
Theodore D. Roosevelt, Jr. , was an American political and business leader, a Medal of Honor recipient who fought in both of the 20th century's world wars. He was the eldest son of President Theodore Roosevelt from his second wife Edith Roosevelt...

 proposed an organization of veterans. In 1919, this group formed a temporary committee and selected several hundred officers. About 1,000 officers and enlisted men attended the first organization meeting in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 in March 1919. 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 their organizational work. It considered each soldier of the AEF a member of the Legion. The executive committee named a subcommittee to organize veterans in the U.S. The Legion held a second organizing caucus in St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is an independent city on the eastern border of Missouri, United States. With a population of 319,294, it was the 58th-largest U.S. city at the 2010 U.S. Census. The Greater St...

, in May 1919.

The first post of the American Legion, General John Joseph Pershing Post Number 1 in Washington, D.C., was organized on March 7, 1919, and obtained the first charter issued to any post of the Legion on May 19, 1919. The St. Louis caucus that same year decided that Legion posts should not be named after living persons, and the first post changed its name to George Washington Post 1. The post completed the constitution and made plans for a permanent organization. It set up temporary headquarters in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 and began its relief, employment, and Americanism
Americanism
Americanism may refer to:* Americanization* A word or phrase considered typical of American English, English as spoken in the United States* An attitude or conviction which gives special importance to the nation, national interest, political system, or culture of the United States* Americanism ,...

 programs.

The publication's official organ in its initial phase was a magazine called The American Legion Weekly, launched on July 4, 1919. This publication switched its frequency and renamed itself The American Legion Monthly in 1926. In 1936 the publication's name and volume numbering system changed again, this time to American Legion Magazine.

Congress granted the American Legion a national charter in September 1919. Among the founders was Ernest O. Thompson
Ernest O. Thompson
Ernest Othmer Thompson was a general in the United States Army during World War I, a mayor of Amarillo, Texas, an attorney, a businessman , and a 32-year member of the Texas Railroad Commission. He was recognized as a world authority on petroleum and natural gas production and conservation...

 (1892–1966) of Texas, later Lieutenant General of the Texas National Guard
Texas National Guard
The Texas National Guard consists of the Texas Army National Guard and the Texas Air National Guard. The Guard is administered by the adjutant general, an appointee of the governor of Texas. The Constitution of the United States specifically charges the National Guard with dual federal and state...

, a member of the Texas Railroad Commission, and an expert on petroleum
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 issues. Another Texan founder was Clayton W. Williams, Sr.
Clayton W. Williams, Sr.
Clayton Wheat Williams, Sr. , was an engineer, a geologist, an oilman, a World War I military officer, a rancher, a county commissioner and civic leader, an historian, and a philanthropist from Fort Stockton, Texas....

, an oilman, rancher, geologist
Geologist
A geologist is a scientist who studies the solid and liquid matter that constitutes the Earth as well as the processes and history that has shaped it. Geologists usually engage in studying geology. Geologists, studying more of an applied science than a theoretical one, must approach Geology using...

, and historian
Historian
A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is...

 from Fort Stockton
Fort Stockton, Texas
Fort Stockton is a city in Pecos County, Texas, United States. The population was 7,846 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Pecos County.-Geography:Fort Stockton is located at ....

.

The first national convention of the American Legion was held from November 10–12, 1919, in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis , nicknamed "City of Lakes" and the "Mill City," is the county seat of Hennepin County, the largest city in the U.S. state of Minnesota, and the 48th largest in the United States...

, 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 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 servicemen.


On November 11, 1919, the first anniversary of Armistice Day
Armistice Day
Armistice Day is on 11 November and commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o'clock in the morning—the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day...

, a new American Legion group in Washington was involved in the Centralia massacre
Centralia Massacre (Washington)
The Centralia Massacre was a violent and bloody incident that occurred in Centralia, Washington on November 11, 1919, during a parade celebrating the first anniversary of Armistice Day...

.

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
United States Department of Veterans Affairs
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs is a government-run military veteran benefit system with Cabinet-level status. It is the United States government’s second largest department, after the United States Department of Defense...

. The Legion also created its own American Legion Baseball Program. Commander Travers D. Carmen awarded Charles Lindbergh
Charles Lindbergh
Charles Augustus Lindbergh was an American aviator, author, inventor, explorer, and social activist.Lindbergh, a 25-year-old U.S...

 its "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.

In 1923, American Legion Commander Alvin Owsley cited Italian Fascism as a model for defending the nation against the united forces of the left: Owsley said:
If ever needed, the American Legion stands ready to protect our country's institutions and ideals as the Fascisti dealt with the destructionists who menaced Italy!...The American Legion is fighting every element that threatens our democratic government – Soviets, anarchists, IWW, revolutionary socialists and every other red....Do not forget that the Fascisti are to Italy what the American Legion is to the United States.


The Legion invited Mussolini to speak at its convention as late as 1930.

Some Legion groups engaged in strikebreaking activities in the 1920s and 1930s. Many American Legion posts that supported labor unions or whose membership included significant numbers of unionized workers were expelled from the American Legion. During these years, the American Legion was known for its support of factory owners to prevent radical penetration of labor unions.

In 1924, the Legion and other veterans organizations won their battle for additional compensation for World War I veterans with the passage of the World War Adjusted Compensation Act
World War Adjusted Compensation Act
The World War Adjusted Compensation Act, or Bonus Act, was a United States federal law passed on May 19, 1924, that granted a benefit to veterans of American military service in World War I.-Provisions:...

. Most payments were scheduled to be paid in 1945.

1930s to 1960s


The American Legion Memorial Bridge
American Legion Memorial Bridge (Michigan)
The American Legion Memorial Bridge is a reinforced concrete arch bridge in Traverse City, Michigan. It was completed in 1930. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places....

 in Traverse City, Michigan
Traverse City, Michigan
Traverse City is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is the county seat of Grand Traverse County, although a small portion extends into Leelanau County. It is the largest city in the 21-county Northern Michigan region. The population was 14,674 at the 2010 census, with 143,372 in the Traverse...

, was completed in 1930.

The Sons of the American Legion formed at the American Legion's 14th National Convention in Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Portland is a city located in the Pacific Northwest, near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 Census, it had a population of 583,776, making it the 29th most populous city in the United States...

, 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 the spring of 1933, at the very beginning of his presidency, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt sought to balance the federal budget by sharp reductions in veterans benefits, which constituted one quarter of the federal budget. The Economy Act
Economy Act
The Economy Act of 1933, officially titled the Act of March 20, 1933 , is an Act of Congress that cut the salaries of federal workers and reduced benefit payments to veterans, moves intended to reduce the federal deficit in the United States....

 of 1933 cut disability pensions and established strict new guidelines for proving disabilities. The American Legion generally supported the FDR administration and the Act, while the Veterans of Foreign Wars
Veterans of Foreign Wars
The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is a congressionally chartered war veterans organization in the United States. Headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, VFW currently has 1.5 million members belonging to 7,644 posts, and is the largest American organization of combat...

 (VFW) was loudly opposed. After a VFW convention heard speeches denouncing FDR's programs, the American Legion invited Roosevelt to speak and he won the convention's support. Nevertheless, the Legion's stance was unpopular with its membership and membership plummeted in 1933 by 20% as 160,000 failed to renew their memberships. The VFW then campaigned for a "Bonus Bill" that would immediately pay World War I veterans what they were due in 1945 under the 1924 World War Adjusted Compensation Act. The Legion's failure to take a similar position allowed the much smaller, less prestigious VFW to rally support while accusing the Legion of ties to the FDR Administration and business interests. In December 1933, retired General Smedley Butler
Smedley Butler
Smedley Darlington Butler was a Major General in the U.S. Marine Corps, an outspoken critic of U.S. military adventurism, and at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in U.S...

, a popular and colorful speaker, toured the country on behalf of the VFW, calling on veterans to organize politically to win their benefits. Butler believed the American Legion was controlled by banking interests. On December 8, 1933, explaining why he believed veterans' interests were better served by the VFW than the American Legion, he said: "I said I have never known one leader of the American Legion who had never sold them out–and I mean it."

In November 1934, Butler told the New York Evening Post
New York Post
The New York Post is the 13th-oldest newspaper published in the United States and is generally acknowledged as the oldest to have been published continuously as a daily, although – as is the case with most other papers – its publication has been periodically interrupted by labor actions...

 and a congressional subcommittee that representatives of powerful industrial interests and the American Legion were trying to induce him to lead the Legion in a campaign to preserve the gold standard and to engineer a coup against President Roosevelt with Butler's aid in marshaling the support of veterans. Everyone implicated denied involvement and the press gave the story little credence. Nevertheless, Butler's charges, elaborated by articles in the Communist newspaper New Masses, gave birth to an enduring conspiracy theory, known as the Business Plot
Business Plot
The Business Plot was an alleged political conspiracy in 1933. Retired Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler claimed that wealthy businessmen were plotting to create a fascist veterans' organization and use it in a coup d’état to overthrow United States President Franklin D...

, that powerful business interests in alliance with the Legion planned to overthrow the federal government.

In 1935, the first Boys' State convened in Springfield, Illinois
Springfield, Illinois
Springfield is the third and current capital of the US state of Illinois and the county seat of Sangamon County with a population of 117,400 , making it the sixth most populated city in the state and the second most populated Illinois city outside of the Chicago Metropolitan Area...

. The American Legion's first National High School Oratorical Contest was held in 1938.

In 1942, the Legion adopted the practice of the VFW to become a perpetual organization, rather than die off as its membership aged as that of the Grand Army of the Republic
Grand Army of the Republic
The Grand Army of the Republic was a fraternal organization composed of veterans of the Union Army, US Navy, US Marines and US Revenue Cutter Service who served in the American Civil War. Founded in 1866 in Decatur, Illinois, it was dissolved in 1956 when its last member died...

 was rapidly doing. The Legion's charter was changed to allow veterans of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 to join. Throughout the 1940s, the American Legion was active in providing support for veterans and soldiers who fought in World War II. The American Legion wrote the original draft of the Veterans Readjustment Act, which became known as the G.I. Bill. The original draft is preserved at the Legion's National Headquarters. The American Legion vigorously campaigned for the G.I. Bill, which was signed into law in June 1944.

The first Boys Nation
Boys Nation
Boys Nation is an annual civic training event run by the American Legion.Each year, two delegates in the summer after their junior year of high school are selected from each of the forty-nine American Legion Boys State programs in the U.S....

 program was held in 1946.

At the Legion's 1951 convention at Miami, Florida, it formally endorsed its "Back to God" movement. When launching the program in 1953 with a national television broadcast that included speeches by President Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

 and Vice-President Nixon, the Legion's National Commander Lewis K. Gough said it promoted "regular church attendance, daily family prayer, and the religious training of children."

In 1952, the American Legion asked for a congressional investigation into the American Civil Liberties Union
American Civil Liberties Union
The American Civil Liberties Union is a U.S. non-profit organization whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States." It works through litigation, legislation, and...

 (ACLU) to determine if it was a communist or communist front organization.

Veterans of the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 were approved for membership in the American Legion in 1950, and the American Legion Child Welfare Foundation was formed in 1954.

1960s to 1990s


On May 30, 1969, the Cabin John Bridge, which carried the Capital Beltway
Interstate 495 (Capital Beltway)
Interstate 495 is a Interstate Highway that surrounds the United States' capital of Washington, D.C., and its inner suburbs in adjacent Maryland and Virginia. I-495 is widely known as the Capital Beltway or simply the Beltway, especially when the context of Washington, D.C., is clear...

 (I-495) across the Potomac River northwest of Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, was officially renamed to the "American Legion Memorial Bridge
American Legion Memorial Bridge (Potomac River)
The American Legion Memorial Bridge, also known as the American Legion Bridge and formerly as the Cabin John Bridge, is a bridge in Montgomery County, Maryland, United States. It carries the Capital Beltway across the Potomac River between Montgomery County and Fairfax County, Virginia...

" in a ceremony led by Lt. Gen. Lewis B. Hershey
Lewis Blaine Hershey
Lewis Blaine Hershey was a United States Army four-star general who served as the second Director of the Selective Service System, the means by which the United States administers its military conscription.-Early life:...

, director of the U.S. Selective Service System
Selective Service System
The Selective Service System is a means by which the United States government maintains information on those potentially subject to military conscription. Most male U.S. citizens and male immigrant non-citizens between the ages of 18 and 25 are required by law to have registered within 30 days of...

.

In 1976, an outbreak of bacteria
Bacteria
Bacteria are a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria have a wide range of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals...

l pneumonia
Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung—especially affecting the microscopic air sacs —associated with fever, chest symptoms, and a lack of air space on a chest X-ray. Pneumonia is typically caused by an infection but there are a number of other causes...

 occurred in a convention of the American Legion at The Bellevue Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia. This pneumonia killed 29 people at the convention and later became known as Legionnaires' disease, or Legionellosis
Legionellosis
Legionellosis is a potentially fatal infectious disease caused by gram negative, aerobic bacteria belonging to the genus Legionella. Over 90% of legionellosis cases are caused by Legionella pneumophila, a ubiquitous aquatic organism that thrives in temperatures between , with an optimum temperature...

. The bacterium that causes the illness was later named Legionella
Legionella
Legionella is a pathogenic Gram negative bacterium, including species that cause legionellosis or Legionnaires' disease, most notably L. pneumophila. It may be readily visualized with a silver stain....

.

After a 1989 U.S. Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 decision, the American Legion launched and funded an unsuccessful campaign to win a constitutional amendment against harming the flag
Flag desecration
Flag desecration is a term applied to various acts that intentionally destroy, damage or mutilate a flag in public, most often a national flag. Often, such action is intended to make a political point against a country or its policies...

 of the United States. The Legion formed the Citizens' Flag Honor Guard and it later became the Citizens Flag Alliance
Citizens Flag Alliance
The Citizens Flag Alliance is an American organization advocating in favor of the Flag Burning Amendment project.CFA was founded in 1989 by the American Legion and originally called the Citizens' Flag Honor Guard....

.

1990s to present


In 1993, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

 renamed a bridge in the city of Chicopee
Chicopee, Massachusetts
Chicopee is a city located on the Connecticut River in Hampden County, Massachusetts, United States of America. It is part of the Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 55,298, making it the second largest city in...

 to the "American Legion Memorial Bridge".

Also in 1993, two members of Garden City
Garden City, Michigan
Garden City is a city in Wayne County of the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 27,692. The city is part of the Metro Detroit region.- History :...

, Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

 American 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, creating the American Legion Riders. 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 a website was set up, and it continues to be a source of information worldwide. By 2009, the American Legion Riders program had grown to over 1,000 chapters and 100,000 members in the United States and overseas.

In a letter to U.S. President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 in May 1999, the American Legion urged the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Operation Allied Force
Operation Allied Force
The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia was NATO's military operation against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War. The strikes lasted from March 24, 1999 to June 10, 1999...

 in Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

. 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. Congress and the American people."

In 2006, the Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Steve Buyer
Steve Buyer
Stephen Earle Buyer is the former U.S. Representative for , and previously the , serving from 1993 until 2011. He is a member of the Republican Party. Buyer holds the rank of Colonel in the United States Army Reserve....

 (R-Ind.), announced that he planned to eliminate the annual congressional hearings for Veterans Service Organizations that was established by President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

. In response, National Commander of the American Legion Thomas L. Bock said, "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."

According to the American Legion, the ACLU, has used the threat of attorney fees to intimidate cities, counties, school boards and other locally elected bodies into surrendering to its demands to remove religion from the public square. As such the American Legion states that it "is leading a nationwide effort to combat the secular cleansing
Secularization
Secularization is the transformation of a society from close identification with religious values and institutions toward non-religious values and secular institutions...

 of our American heritage," stating that the phrase "separation of church and state
Separation of church and state
The concept of the separation of church and state refers to the distance in the relationship between organized religion and the nation state....

" is nowhere mentioned in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution
First Amendment to the United States Constitution
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering...

. The American Legion released a document titled "In The Footsteps Of The Founders – A Guide To Defending American Values" to be available to the citizens of The United States of America. The veteran's organization has done this to curtail religious-establishment cases against the Boy Scouts
Boy Scouts of America
The Boy Scouts of America is one of the largest youth organizations in the United States, with over 4.5 million youth members in its age-related divisions...

, the public display of the Ten Commandments
Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue , are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship, which play a fundamental role in Judaism and most forms of Christianity. They include instructions to worship only God and to keep the Sabbath, and prohibitions against idolatry,...

 and other symbols pertaining to America's religious history and heritage.

Membership eligibility requirements


Eligibility for American Legion membership is limited to those honorably discharged veterans and current personnel of the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

, Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

, Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

, Coast Guard
United States Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven U.S. uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission and a federal regulatory agency...

 or Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 who served at least one day of active duty during any of the following periods:
  • World War I
    World War I
    World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

    :  April 6, 1917, to November 11, 1918
  • World War II
    World War II
    World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

    :  December 7, 1941, to December 31, 1946, except that for the U.S. Merchant Marine eligibility dates are December 7, 1941, to August 16, 1945)
  • Korean War
    Korean War
    The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

    :  June 25, 1950, to January 31, 1955
  • Vietnam War
    Vietnam War
    The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

    :  February 28, 1961, to May 7, 1975
  • 1982 Lebanon War
    1982 Lebanon War
    The 1982 Lebanon War , , called Operation Peace for Galilee by Israel, and later known in Israel as the Lebanon War and First Lebanon War, began on 6 June 1982, when the Israel Defense Forces invaded southern Lebanon...

     and Operation Urgent Fury (Grenada):  August 24, 1982, to July 31, 1984
  • Operation Just Cause (Panama):  December 20, 1989, to January 31, 1990
  • Gulf War
    Gulf War
    The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

    / War On Terror
    War on Terror
    The War on Terror is a term commonly applied to an international military campaign led by the United States and the United Kingdom with the support of other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as well as non-NATO countries...

     (Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom):  August 2, 1990 to today

Organizational structure



Posts


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 available to the community, churches in time of need. It is also not uncommon for the Post to contain a bar open during limited hours. A Post member is distinguished by a navy blue garrison cap with gold piping.

Counties


Each U.S. county comprises several Posts and oversees their operations, led by a County Council of elected officers. The County Commander performs annual inspections of the Posts within their jurisdiction and reports the findings to both the District and the Department level. A County Commander is distinguished by a navy blue garrison cap with white piping.

Districts


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 four 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. A District Commander is distinguished by a navy blue garrison cap with a white crown and gold piping.

Departments


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 three 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 consists of 29 Posts located in 10 European counties, the Department of Mexico consists of 22 Posts located in Central America, and the Department of Philippines covers Asia and the Pacific Islands. A Department Officer or Department Executive Committee Representative is distinguished by a white garrison cap with gold piping.

National headquarters


The main American Legion Headquarters is located on the Indiana World War Memorial Plaza
Indiana World War Memorial Plaza
The Indiana World War Memorial Plaza is an urban feature located in Indianapolis, Indiana, originally built to honor the veterans of World War I. The five-city-block plaza was conceived in 1919 as a location for the national headquarters of the American Legion and a memorial to the state's and...

 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. A National Officer or National Executive Committee Representative is distinguished by a red garrison cap with gold piping.

List of National Commanders


  • Franklin D'Olier
    Franklin D'Olier
    Franklin D'Olier was the first national commander of the American Legion and served in that capacity from 1919 to 1921. Like all of the original American Legion membership, D'Olier was a veteran of The Great War. D'Olier was also a prominent businessman and the great-grandfather of actor...

    , Pennsylvania
    Pennsylvania
    The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

    , 1919–1920
  • Frederic W. Galbraith, Jr.
    Frederic W. Galbraith
    Frederic W. Galbraith was the second national commander of the American Legion. He had been highly decorated as a soldier during World War I and was instrumental in helping to make the American Legion the largest and most powerful veteran organization in the world at the time of...

    , Ohio
    Ohio
    Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

    , 1920–1921
  • John G. Emery, Michigan
    Michigan
    Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

    , June 14, 1921-November 2, 1921
  • Hanford MacNider
    Hanford MacNider
    Hanford “Jack” MacNider was a United States diplomat and United States Army General, serving in both World War I and World War II. He was a Scottish Rite Freemason.-Biography:...

    , Iowa
    Iowa
    Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

    , 1921–1922
  • Alvin M. Owsley
    Alvin M. Owsley
    Alvin Mansfield Owsley was an American diplomat, lawyer, and soldier.-Personal life:Owsley was born and raised in Denton, Texas, son of Alvin Clark and Sallie Owsley. He remained in Texas with his family while working for his elementary and secondary education, and also while attending a term at...

    , Texas
    Texas
    Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

    , 1922–1923
  • John R. Quinn, California
    California
    California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

    , 1923–1924
  • James A Drain, Washington, 1924–1925
  • John R. McQuigg, Ohio
    Ohio
    Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

    , 1925–1926
  • Howard P. Savage, Illinois
    Illinois
    Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

    , 1926–1927
  • Edward E. Spafford, New York
    New York
    New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

    , 1927–1928
  • Paul Vories McNutt, Indiana
    Indiana
    Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

    , 1928–1929
  • O. L. Bodenhamer, Arkansas
    Arkansas
    Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

    , 1929–1930
  • Ralph T. O'Neil
    Ralph T. O'Neil
    Ralph Thomas O'Neil was National Commander of the American Legion for the term of 1930–1.- Further reading :* anonymous; , 5 March 1934.* anonymous; , 2 March 1936....

    , Kansas
    Kansas
    Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

    , 1930–1931
  • Henry L. Stevens, Jr., North Carolina
    North Carolina
    North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

    , 1931–1932
  • Louis A. Johnson
    Louis A. Johnson
    Louis Arthur Johnson was the second United States Secretary of Defense, serving in the cabinet of President Harry S. Truman from March 28, 1949 to September 19, 1950....

    , West Virginia
    West Virginia
    West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

    , 1932–1933
  • Edward A. Hayes, Illinois
    Illinois
    Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

    , 1933–1934
  • Frank N. Belgrano, California
    California
    California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

    , 1934–1935
  • Ray Murphy, Iowa
    Iowa
    Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

    , 1935–1936
  • Harry W. Colmery, Kansas
    Kansas
    Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

    , 1936–1937
  • Daniel Doherty, Massachusetts
    Massachusetts
    The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

    , 1937–1938
  • Stephen F. Chadwick, Washington, 1938–1939
  • Raymond J. Kelly, Michigan
    Michigan
    Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

    , 1939–1940
  • Milo J. Warner, Ohio
    Ohio
    Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

    , 1940–1941
  • Lynn U. Stambaugh, North Dakota
    North Dakota
    North Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States of America, along the Canadian border. The state is bordered by Canada to the north, Minnesota to the east, South Dakota to the south and Montana to the west. North Dakota is the 19th-largest state by area in the U.S....

    , 1941–1942
  • Roane Waring, Tennessee
    Tennessee
    Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

    , 1942–1943
  • Warren Atherton
    Warren Atherton
    Warren H. Atherton is widely recognized as the "Father of the G.I. Bill", officially known as the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944.-Biography:...

    , California
    California
    California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

    , 1943–1944
  • Edward N. Scheiberling, New York
    New York
    New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

    , 1944–1945
  • John Stelle, Illinois
    Illinois
    Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

    , 1945–1946
  • Paul H. Griffith, Pennsylvania
    Pennsylvania
    The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

    , 1946–1947
  • James F. O'Neal, New Hampshire
    New Hampshire
    New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian...

    , 1947–1948
  • S. Perry Brown, Texas
    Texas
    Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

    , 1948–1949
  • George N. Craig
    George N. Craig
    George North Craig was the 39th Governor of the U.S. state of Indiana from 1953 until 1957. A lawyer and veteran of World War II who was promoted to serve in a division command staff, Craig first gained popularity in the state as national commander of the American Legion...

    , Indiana
    Indiana
    Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

    , 1949–1950
  • Erle Cocke, Jr.
    Erle Cocke, Jr.
    Erle Cocke, Jr. was a Brigadier General in the National Guard of the United States.-Biography:A native of Dawson, Georgia, Cocke was born on May 10, 1921. Cocke attended the University of Georgia and Harvard University. He would marry Madelyn Grotnes and have three children...

    , Georgia
    Georgia (U.S. state)
    Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

    , 1950–1951
  • Donald R. Wilson, West Virginia
    West Virginia
    West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

    , 1951–1952
  • Lewis K. Gough, California
    California
    California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

    , 1952–1953
  • Arthur J. Connell, Connecticut
    Connecticut
    Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

    , 1953–1954
  • Seaborn P. Collins, New Mexico
    New Mexico
    New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

    , 1954–1955
  • J. Addington Wagner, Michigan
    Michigan
    Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

    , 1955–1956
  • Dan Daniel
    Dan Daniel (politician)
    Wilbur Clarence Daniel was a U.S. Representative from Virginia, USA.Born in Chatham, Virginia, Daniel grew up on a tobacco farm in Mecklenburg County, Virginia. He was educated in Virginia schools, and was a graduate of Dan River Textile School, Danville, Virginia...

    , Virginia
    Virginia
    The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

    , 1956–1957
  • John S. Gleason, Jr., Illinois
    Illinois
    Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

    , 1957–1958
  • Preston J. Moore, Oklahoma
    Oklahoma
    Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

    , 1958–1959
  • Martin B. McKneally
    Martin B. McKneally
    Martin Boswell McKneally was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from New York....

    , New York
    New York
    New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

    , 1959–1960
  • William R. Burke, California
    California
    California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

    , 1960–1961
  • Charles L. Bacon, Missouri
    Missouri
    Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

    , 1961–1962
  • James E. Powers, Georgia
    Georgia (U.S. state)
    Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

    , 1962–1963
  • Hon. Daniel F. Foley, Minnesota
    Minnesota
    Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

    , 1963–1964
  • Donald E. Johnson, Iowa
    Iowa
    Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

    , 1964–1965

  • L. Eldon James, Virginia
    Virginia
    The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

    , 1965–1966
  • John E. Davis, North Dakota
    North Dakota
    North Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States of America, along the Canadian border. The state is bordered by Canada to the north, Minnesota to the east, South Dakota to the south and Montana to the west. North Dakota is the 19th-largest state by area in the U.S....

    , 1966–1967
  • William E. Galbraith
    William E. Galbraith
    William E. Galbraith, born January 1922, is a native of rural Beemer, Nebraska and was a prominent member of American Legion Post 159, Beemer Nebraska. He served as National Vice-Commander of the American Legion before being elected National Commander of the American Legion on 31 August 1967. Mr....

    , Nebraska
    Nebraska
    Nebraska is a state on the Great Plains of the Midwestern United States. The state's capital is Lincoln and its largest city is Omaha, on the Missouri River....

    , 1967–1968
  • William C. Doyle, New Jersey
    New Jersey
    New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

    , 1968–1969
  • J. Milton Patrick, Oklahoma
    Oklahoma
    Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

    , 1969–1970
  • Alfred P. Chamie, California
    California
    California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

    , 1970–1971
  • John H. Geiger, Illinois
    Illinois
    Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

    , 1971–1972
  • Joe L. Matthews, Texas
    Texas
    Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

    , 1972–1973
  • Robert E. L. Earon, Maryland
    Maryland
    Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

    , 1972–1973
  • James M. Wagonseller, Ohio
    Ohio
    Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

    , 1974–1975
  • Harry G. Wiles, Kansas
    Kansas
    Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

    , 1975–1976
  • William J. Rogers
    William J. Rogers
    William J. Rogers was a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly.-Biography:Rogers was born on December 9, 1930 in Appleton, Wisconsin. During the Korean War, he served in the United States Army.-Political career:...

    , Maine
    Maine
    Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

    , 1976–1977
  • Robert Charles Smith, Louisiana
    Louisiana
    Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

    , 1977–1978
  • John M. Carey, Michigan
    Michigan
    Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

    , 1978–1979
  • Frank I. Hamilton, Indiana
    Indiana
    Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

    , 1979–1980
  • Michael J. Kogutek, New York
    New York
    New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

    , 1980–1981
  • Jack W. Flynt, Texas
    Texas
    Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

    , 1981–1982
  • Al Keller, Jr., Illinois
    Illinois
    Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

    , 1982–1983
  • Keith A. Kreul, Wisconsin
    Wisconsin
    Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

    , 1983–1984
  • Clarence M. Bacon, Maryland
    Maryland
    Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

    , 1984–1985
  • Dale L. Renaud, Iowa
    Iowa
    Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

    , 1985–1986
  • Hon. James P. Dean, Mississippi
    Mississippi
    Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

    , 1986–1987
  • John P. "Jake" Comer, Massachusetts
    Massachusetts
    The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

    , 1987–1988
  • Hon. H. F. Sparky, North Dakota
    North Dakota
    North Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States of America, along the Canadian border. The state is bordered by Canada to the north, Minnesota to the east, South Dakota to the south and Montana to the west. North Dakota is the 19th-largest state by area in the U.S....

    , 1988–1989
  • Miles S. Epling, West Virginia
    West Virginia
    West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

    , 1989–1990
  • Robert S. Turner, Georgia
    Georgia (U.S. state)
    Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

    , 1990–1991
  • Dominic D. DiFrancesco, Pennsylvania
    Pennsylvania
    The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

    , 1991–1992
  • Roger A. Munson, Ohio
    Ohio
    Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

    , 1992–1993
  • Bruce Thiesen, California
    California
    California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

    , 1993–1994
  • William M. Detweiler, Louisiana
    Louisiana
    Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

    , 1994–1995
  • Daniel A. Ludwig, Minnesota
    Minnesota
    Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

    , 1995–1996
  • Joseph J. Frank, Missouri
    Missouri
    Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

    , 1996–1997
  • Anthony G. Jordan, Maine
    Maine
    Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

    , 1997–1998
  • Butch L. Miller, Indiana
    Indiana
    Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

    , 1998–1999
  • Hon. Alan G. Lance, Idaho
    Idaho
    Idaho is a state in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. The state's largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called "Idahoans". Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state....

    , 1999–2000
  • Ray G. Smith, North Carolina
    North Carolina
    North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

    , 2000–2001
  • Richard Santos, Maryland
    Maryland
    Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

    , 2001–2002
  • Ronald F. Conley, Pennsylvania
    Pennsylvania
    The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

    , 2002–2003
  • John A. Brieden
    John A. Brieden
    John Brieden, III is a former national commander of the American Legion, a past member of the Texas Veterans Commission and the Brazos River Authority, and is currently the Republican county judge of Washington County, Texas. - Background :...

    , Texas
    Texas
    Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

    , 2003–2004
  • Thomas P. Cadmus
    Thomas P. Cadmus
    Thomas P. Cadmus is a former National Commander of The American Legion.Cadmus served in the United States Army as an Armored Reconnaissance Specialist from 1965 to 1967, and left the Army as a Specialist Five...

    , Michigan
    Michigan
    Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

    , 2004–2005
  • Thomas L. Bock, Colorado
    Colorado
    Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

    , 2005–2006
  • Paul A. Morin, Massachusetts
    Massachusetts
    The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

    , 2006–2007
  • Martin "Marty" Conatser, Illinois
    Illinois
    Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

    , 2007–2008
  • David Rehbein, Iowa
    Iowa
    Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

    , 2008–2009
  • Clarence Hill, Florida
    Florida
    Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

    , 2009–2010
  • Jimmie Foster, Alaska
    Alaska
    Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

    , 2010–2011
  • Fang A. Wong, New Jersey
    New Jersey
    New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

    , 2011–present


See also

  • American Legion Baseball
    American Legion Baseball
    American Legion Baseball is a variety of amateur baseball played by teenage boys in 50 states in the USA. More than five thousand teams participate each year. The American Legion Department of South Dakota established the program in 1925 at Milbank, South Dakota...

  • American Legion Freedom Bell
    American Legion Freedom Bell
    Freedom Bell, American Legion, is a public artwork located at Union Station in Washington, D.C., United States. Freedom Bell, American Legion was surveyed as part of the Smithsonian's American Art Museum's Inventories of American Painting and Sculpture database in 1985.-Description:The sculpture is...

  • American Legion Soldier
    American Legion Soldier
    American Legion Soldier is a public artwork by German-born American artist Adolph Wolter, located at the American Legion building on K Street, N.W. in Washington, D.C., United States...

  • Boys State, Girls State, Boys Nation
    Boys Nation
    Boys Nation is an annual civic training event run by the American Legion.Each year, two delegates in the summer after their junior year of high school are selected from each of the forty-nine American Legion Boys State programs in the U.S....

    , Girls Nation
    Girls Nation
    Girls Nation is an annual civic training event run by the American Legion Auxiliary. It is analogous to Boys Nation.The first American Legion Auxiliary Girls Nation was held August 9-August 14, 1947, with 82 girls and 41 states participating. It has been held each year subsequently...

  • Legion Field
    Legion Field
    Legion Field is a large stadium in Birmingham, Alabama, United States, primarily designed to be used as a venue for American football, but is occasionally used for other large outdoor events. The stadium is named in honor of the American Legion, a U.S. organization of military veterans. At its peak...

     in Birmingham, Alabama, named for the American Legion
  • List of American Legion buildings
  • Returned and Services League of Australia
    Returned and Services League of Australia
    The Returned and Services League of Australia is a support organisation for men and women who have served or are serving in the Australian Defence Force ....

  • Royal Canadian Legion
    Royal Canadian Legion
    The Royal Canadian Legion is a non-profit Canadian ex-service organization founded in 1925, with more than 400,000 members worldwide. Membership includes people who have served as current and former military, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, provincial and municipal police, direct relatives of...

  • Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association
    Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association
    The Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association, often referred to as the Returned Services' Association but best known simply as the RSA, is one of the largest voluntary welfare organisations in New Zealand and one of the oldest ex-service organisations in the world.Wounded soldiers...

  • The Royal British Legion
    The Royal British Legion
    The Royal British Legion , sometimes referred to as simply The Legion, is the United Kingdom's leading charity providing financial, social and emotional support to those who have served or who are currently serving in the British Armed Forces, and their dependants.-History:The British Legion was...

  • Veterans of Foreign Wars
    Veterans of Foreign Wars
    The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is a congressionally chartered war veterans organization in the United States. Headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, VFW currently has 1.5 million members belonging to 7,644 posts, and is the largest American organization of combat...


External links




Further reading

  • Thomas B. Littlewood, Soldiers Back Home: The American Legion in Illinois, 1919-1939. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-8093-2587-X
  • William Pencak, For God & Country: The American Legion, 1919-1941. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1989. ISBN 1-55553-050-8
  • Thomas A. Rumer, The American Legion: An Official History, 1919-1989. New York: M. Evans and Co., 1990. ISBN 0-87131-622-6
  • George Seay Wheat, The Story of the American Legion. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1919.