For more than 100 years, the American Legion has been serving America, its veterans and their families.
The American Legion was founded in March, 1919, in Paris, France, by U.S. World War I military personnel stationed there who were dedicated to four pillars of service and advocacy: veterans, military personnel, youth and patriotic values.
The American Legion today consists of 55 “departments” in each of the 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, France, Mexico, the Philippines and Puerto Rico. There are approximately 13,000 local posts worldwide.
Current national membership is about 2 million. Combined with the American Legion Auxiliary and Sons of The American Legion, membership in what is known as the American Legion Family exceeds 3 million.
More than 70% of Major League Baseball players have played in American Legion Baseball over the years.
American Legion membership is open to military personnel and veterans who have served their nation on active duty. Eligibility has been open to all who have served on active duty.
The Legion has been instrumental in the creation of a number of major institutions of American society, including formation of the Department of Veterans Affairs, creation of U.S. Flag Code, passage of the G.I. Bill and more.
American Legion posts annually:
» Donate more than 3.7 million hours of volunteer service in their communities.
» Provide assistance on more than 181,000 VA benefits claims and cases.
» Donate more than 80,000 pints of blood to collection centers nationwide, which makes the Legion the nation’s single largest blood donor.
» Award more than 8,000 medals to Junior ROTC students.
» Sponsor more than 2,500 Scouting units serving more than 64,000 young people.
» Award more than $4 million in college scholarships
The American Legion will mark its 100th anniversary with a 15-month celebration running from its national convention in August 2018 through Veterans Day 2019.
Among the prominent Americans serving on the national 100th Anniversary Honorary Committee are: Chairman Theodore Roosevelt IV, grandson of American Legion co-founder Theodore Roosevelt Jr.; Tom Brokaw, former American Legion Baseball player and American Legion Boys State participant; Mitch Daniels, Purdue University president, former American Legion Boys State and Boys Nation participant and former two-term governor of Indiana; Jamie Corkish, former American Legion Junior Shooting Sports champion and 2012 U.S. Olympic gold medal winner; Diane Carlson-Evans, Vietnam War combat nurse; Gen. Patrick Brady, Medal of Honor recipient; Val Nicholas, NBC News vice president; Susan Eisenhower, international policy adviser and granddaughter of President Dwight Eisenhower.
The Utah connection is strong, with more than 50,000 high school students who have attended Boys and Girls State over the years. Utah Legion and Auxiliary members can be seen around the state performing community service, Eagle Court of Honor presentation, posting the colors, performing military funeral honors, hosting a gift shop at the VA Medical Center each December so patients can get gifts for their families while they are hospitalized.
The American Legion 100th Anniversary mantra is “Legacy and Vision” – both a celebration of past accomplishments and a renewal of the organization’s resolve to serve communities, states and the nation for a second century.
The American Legion, “Still Serving America.”
Terry Schow is a former director of the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs and a member of the National Executive Committee of The American Legion.