History of the National American Legion

In the November 4, 2016 issue of The Gazette, we celebrated our nation’s Veterans Day on November 11th with a photo story of our local American Legion. Below is a brief history of this patriotic organization.

A group of 20 officers who served in the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in France in World War I is credited with planning the Legion. AEF Headquarters asked these officers to suggest ideas on how to improve troop morale. One officer, Lt. Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., proposed an organization of veterans.

In February 1919, this group formed a temporary committee, and selected several hundred officers who had the confidence and respect of the whole Army.

The first organization meeting took place in Paris in March 1919, with about 1,000 officers and enlisted men in attendance. The meeting, known as the Paris Caucus, adopted a temporary constitution and the name, "The American Legion."

It also elected an executive committee to complete the organization work. It considered each soldier of the AEF a member of the Legion. The executive committee named a subcommittee to organize veterans at home in the United States.

The Legion held a second organizing caucus in St. Louis, MO in May 1919. It completed the constitution and made plans for a permanent organization. It set up temporary headquarters in New York, NY and began its relief, employment and Americanism programs.

The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic, mutual-help, war-time veteran’s organization. The American Legion is a community service organization now numbering nearly 3 million members of men and woman and nearly 15,000 American Legion Posts worldwide.

These posts are organized into 55 Departments – one each for the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, France, Mexico and the Philippines.

THE AMERICAN LEGION NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS The American Legion’s national headquarters is in Indianapolis, Indiana, with additional offices in Washington, DC. In addition to thousands of volunteers serving in leadership and program implementation capacities in local communities to the Legion’s standing national commissions and committees, the national organization has a regular full-time staff of about 300 employees.

National Headquarters Indianapolis Office 700 North Pennsylvania Street, P.O. Box 1055 Indianapolis, IN 46206 Telephone: 317/630-1200 Fax: 317/630-1223. (Info derived from the Internet.)

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