To The Editor:
Congratulations to The American Legion whose members are beginning another year of “Service for God and Country.”
Legionnaires all over the country are looking forward continuing their important contributions to their community state and nation.
When, where and why was The American Legion organized? We must go back to 1919. It was three months after the Armistice that World War I had been fought and won. The veterans of World War I banded together and decided to undertake the organization of an association of American veterans of World War I. The organization was not formed in a day or week, but over a period of months it did become a reality. The first meeting or caucus was held in Paris, France, on March 15-17 and it was agreed that a veteran organization should be started, that it be all inclusive of those who served in American uniform at home as well as overseas, that it be a civilian organization, not a military organization, and that it be composed of man-to-man membership devoid of rank. It was to have principles of its own; it must be democratic in form.
During this caucus in France a name of the organization was selected. Several names were suggested and after a lengthy discussion the name of “The American Legion” was selected.
It had been decided earlier that two organizational meetings should be held, the one in Paris and one in the states. St. Louis was the place selected for this caucus. It was for the forces that had not gone overseas. Delegates from every state attended this caucus May 8, 9 and 10, 1919. The idea of a worldwide organization had begun to breathe and live.
Many of us do not remember the founding of The American Legion but history tells us that the times were rough and a living challenge. After performing so well the duties Uncle Sam had requested of them, bringing victory to their country, felt their job was not finished and they were determined to do something about the situation of no jobs, strikes, unemployment, etc.
Minneapolis, Minn., was the site chosen for the first convention of The American Legion, to be held Nov. 10-12, the first anniversary of the Armistice.
At this first convention The American Legion made its first declaration on the care of the disabled veterans, employment of veterans, patriotic observances, education and other subjects. It had now set up a permanent organization and is today the largest patriotic organization of men and women.
The wars the United States has been engaged in since World War I swelled the ranks of The American Legion. These men and women feel too that service to their country does not end when their uniform is put aside. Those so-called “dog tags,” letters, pictures and other mementos of the war are put away. Today an emblem is proudly being worn by these men and women, it is the emblem of “The American Legion.”
The work of The American Legion has done for the widows and orphans of their comrades and for the disabled of their ranks, their forthright effort to preserve our national security and our nation honors all of these and many more programs have improved and enhanced our American theme of existence.
Men and women who live today and have worn the uniform of our country need never fear petty detractors. Yes, some individuals or groups sometimes criticize The American Legion and its programs. These detractors need to view the accomplishments over the past 95 years; their concern would vanish in thin air.
The many achievements of The American Legion are indelibly recorded in the book of life and are inspirations to all the members and to all Americans.
All of us — all Americans owe much to the American Legion for its service, for 95 years of tremendous work of patriotism service well done.
Let us pay tribute to The American Legionnaires, not just on special days but every day.
Yes, Legionnaires, we congratulate and salute you, as you begin your 96th year of “Service for God and Country.”