The American Legion is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

It traces its roots to March 15-17, 1919, when U.S. World War I military personnel, members of the American Expeditionary Force, gathered in Paris, France, to found a patriotic veterans organization.

On May 8-10 of that year, members gathered in St. Louis for the second time and adopted the name American Legion.

American Legion Post 218 in Washington invites eligible veterans to join this patriotic organization. The American Legion supports veterans and service members, advocates a strong national defense, promotes Americanism and supports children and youth programs.

In 1921, “ex-servicemen” met at Washington City Hall to establish a post. Post 218 was chartered in 1923.

The Post offers a number of activities, including the Honor Guard ceremonial detail for veteran funerals, leadership opportunities, Memorial Day observance, Veterans Day program and Legion Riders, among others.

The Honor Guard donates to Washington area food pantries. The Post sponsors the Washington American Legion Post 218 baseball team.

Post 218 also sends high school boys to the American Legion Boys State of Missouri each summer. Boys State is an eight-day hands-on leadership experience in the fundamentals of government.

The Washington American Legion Post has sponsored the community Fourth of July fireworks display as far back as 1926 with the help of donations from private businesses and area citizens. The display is held at the fairgrounds each July 4.

Meetings are held the third Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the Post Home, 1007 E. Third St., Washington.

Food is served Friday evenings from after Labor Day until Memorial Day to members, families and invited guests. The bar is open to members Monday through Friday at 3 p.m. and Saturdays at 2 p.m. Closing time varies. It offers other events to its members throughout the year.

To be eligible for membership, you must have served in active duty during specified periods. Active military personnel also are eligible.

Additionally, National Guard and Reservists who were federally activated also meet eligibility requirements.

Family members may join the Post 218 Family, including the American Legion Auxiliary for mothers, daughters, granddaughters, great-granddaughters, sisters or wives, or the Sons of the American Legion for male descendants of veterans.

Women veterans may be members of both the Post and the Auxiliary. Members of all three organizations may join the Legion Riders.

For more membership information for all three organizations and eligibility dates, visit post218.org and click on “Join Us” at the left.

The American Legion Auxiliary is celebrating its centennial in 2019. It was founded at the American Legion’s first convention on Nov. 10, 1919, in Minneapolis, Minn.