American Legion History

American Legion History from Wikipedia

The American Legion, Inc., is an American veterans' organization formed in Paris, France, on March 16, 1919, by members of the American Expeditionary Forces (A.E.F.) The Legion was chartered by the United States Congress on September 16, 1919. It is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, and also legislative offices in Washington. The American Legion played the leading role in drafting and passing the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, otherwise known as the "GI Bill." For Full Article See Link Below: "American Legion." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 18 Mar. 2017. Web. 20 Mar. 2017. <>. _____________________________________________________________

National HQ American Legion History site

The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization. Focusing on service to veterans, service members and communities, the Legion evolved from a group of war-weary veterans of World War I into one of the most influential nonprofit groups in the United States. Membership swiftly grew to over 1 million, and local posts sprang up across the country. Today, membership stands at over 2.4 million in 14,000 posts worldwide. The posts are organized into 55 departments: one each for the 50 states, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, France, Mexico and the Philippines. Over the years, the Legion has influenced considerable social change in America, won hundreds of benefits for veterans and produced many important programs for children and youth. For Full Article See Link Below: "History." The American Legion. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2017. <>. _____________________________________________________________ American Legion History


The American Legion is the world's largest veterans' organization, with membership open to those holding an honorable discharge from active duty in the U.S. armed forces after 1914. Legionnaires dedicate themselves to perpetuating the principles for which they have fought, to inculcating civic responsibility in the nation, to preserving the history of their participation in American wars, and to binding together as comrades with all those who have fought. They also pledge to defend law and order, to develop "a one hundred percent Americanism," and to help the less fortunate through government and private programs. Four Allied Expeditionary Forces officers-of-the-line informally started the Legion in February 1919 while still on active duty in Paris, France. These founders—Col. Theodore Roosevelt Jr., Lt. Col. George S. White, Maj. Eric Fisher Wood, and Lt. Col. William J. ("Wild Bill") Donovan—sought both to bolster soldier morale during the post-armistice period and to provide an alternative to other veterans' groups being set up in the United States. A covert aim was to continue the political tenets of the "New Nationalism" of the defunct Bull Moose political party. They enunciated the organization's purposes at the Paris Caucus and saw them reaffirmed at the Continental Caucus, held three months later at St. Louis, Missouri. The Legion received its incorporation from the U.S. Congress on 16 September 1919. By 1925, the Legion achieved all the programs and policies it maintains today. The Legion assumed the role of representative for all former doughboys even though its 1920 membership of 840,000 represented only about 18.5 percent of eligible veterans. At the onset of every war or military action since World War I (1914–1918), the Legion has persuaded Congress to amend its incorporation to allow veterans of those conflicts to join the Legion. Its membership fluctuated from a low of 610,000 in 1925 to a high of 3,325,000 in 1946, leveling off by 1972 to the 2,800,000 that was sustained through the end of the twentieth century. Pursuit of its goal of "Americanism" led the Legion into many controversies. Legionnaires have striven to rid school textbooks and public libraries' shelves of perceived alien, Communist, syndicalist, or anarchist influences. During the "Red Scare" of 1919–20, four Legionnaires died in a shootout with Industrial Workers of the World organizers at Centralia, Washington. Legionnaires covertly spied on unsuspecting American citizens for the congressional House Un-American Activities Committee and the Federal Bureau of Investigation from the 1930s until the 1970s. The American Legion's advocacy of military preparedness started in 1919. During the politically isolationist 1920s, this policy made the Legion unpopular with many, as did its continued support of universal military training into the 1970s. Similarly, its condemnation of U.S. participation in United Nations Economic and Social Council activities and its call for a total blockade of communist Cuba during the 1960s sparked debates. Representatives of the Legion spoke in support of a stronger military at every War/Defense department appropriation hearing from 1919 through 2002. Through its strenuous efforts to obtain benefits for veterans, the American Legion earned the reputation by the late 1930s of being one of the nation's most effective interest groups. Its demand for a bonus for World War I veterans, finally met in 1936 over the objections of four successive Presidents, and its promotion of the GI Bill of Rights for World War II veterans, achieved in 1944, testify to its highly publicized dedication to all veterans—not just its members. The Legion practically created the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and its predecessors. Starting in 1978, the Legion demanded medical and monetary benefits for veterans exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam. The Legion works almost as hard to prevent similar beneficial programs for the nonveteran population. Other, less controversial, activities project the Legion's preferred image. The local posts sponsor individual teams for the nationwide American Legion baseball league. Each state organization operates an annual hands-on political seminar for high school students. The Legion and the National Education Association began cosponsoring "American Education Week" in 1919 to foster local appreciation for good education opportunities for children. Legionnaires annually donate $20 million to charitable causes and 4 million work-hours to community service. The Legion had five international groups, fifty U.S. state departments, and 14,500 local posts throughout the world as of 2002. The posts report to the departments who, in turn, send representatives to the annual national convention. The convention sets policy for the Legion and elects the National Commander and the National Executive Committee. The latter directs the Legion from national headquarters at Indianapolis, Indiana, between conventions. The Legion's charter forbids formal political activity by the organization or its elected officers. Nonetheless, the Legion does maintain a powerful liaison office in Washington, D.C., and every major contender for national office gives at least one speech to a Legion convention. For Full Article See Link Below: "American Legion." Dictionary of American History., n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2017. < organizations/private-organizations/american-legion>.
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