Greetings: March of 1919 was a tumultuous time for the United States and its European Allies. The Central Powers, Germany and Austria-Hungary, had just agreed to a ceasefire to end the First World War, the Great War as it was known then. The guns were silent for the first time in over four years. Europe was devastated economically. Politically extreme groups were fighting to take control of newly independent Nations. Millions of veterans of the War were waiting to return home. Among those veterans were over a million United States soldiers and sailors. However eager those vets were to return to America, they were very concerned about what waited for them now that they were soon to be civilians. Would there be jobs? What about health care? Hearing these concerns, a group of officers and senior enlisted met in Paris to discuss establishing a fraternal, veterans’ service organization, an American Legion of veterans. At the meeting it was decided to seek a Charter from the U.S. Congress as a federally recognized veterans’ association. Leaders from the Paris meeting soon returned home to the United States. They began to organize local American Legion Posts across all 48 states. Membership in the new Legion grew rapidly. In September of 1919 the Congress granted a unique charter to the new organization, making the American Legion the first Congressionally endorsed fraternal organization in the United States. For more than a century, the American Legion has represented the concerns of millions of American Veterans and active duty military members. The American Legion of 2023 is still the largest veterans’ association in the United States. March is a time to look back with pride on what we Legionnaires have accomplished over the past decades. We also need to look ahead to our legacy. We need to work to keep our Legion strong. Come to a meeting. Bring a new member to the Post.We should be proud of our organizations’ achievements, but the job isn’t done yet. Get involved; it’s your Legion.
Keith M. Wakefield