American Legion
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American Legion

The American Legion
Five-pointed star with the insignia "U. S." enclosed in two bronze bands in the center of the star. This design is enclosed in a wreath. Encircling the star and the wreath are the words "American Legion" set in deep blue enamel. This in turn is encircled by a narrow band suggestive of the rays of the sun
Sede nacional de la Legión Estadounidense, Indianápolis, Estados Unidos, 2012-10-22, DD 01.jpg
American Legion National Headquarters
Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
EstablishedMarch 15, 1919
(102 years ago)
Founded atParis, France
Type501(c)(19), war veterans' organization
Headquarters700 North Pennsylvania Street, Indianapolis, Indiana
Coordinates39°46?37?N 86°09?22?W / 39.7770°N 86.1562°W / 39.7770; -86.1562
Area served
Membership (2018)
James W. Oxford (NC)
Since August 29, 2019
  • Francis J. MacDonald (MA)
    Since August 29, 2019
  • David L. King (KY)
    Since August 29, 2019
  • Robert D. Liebenow (OR)
    Since August 29, 2019
  • Bruce C. Feuerbach (IA)
    Since August 29, 2019
  • Richard A. Heigert (MO)
    Since August 29, 2019
National Executive Committee
61 voting members
  • 6 national officers
  • 55 committeemen
Key people
  • National Headquarters Executive Director
    James Baca
  • Washington Office Executive Director
    Chanin Nuntavong
Main organ
National Convention
SecessionsForty and Eight

The American Legion, commonly known as the Legion, is a nonprofit organization of U.S. war veterans headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. It is made up of state, U.S. territory, and overseas departments, and these are in turn made up of local posts. The organization was formed on March 15, 1919, in Paris, France, by a thousand officers and men of the American Expeditionary Forces (A. E. F.),[1] and it was chartered on September 16, 1919, by the United States Congress.[2]

Roadside American Legion sign, Lubec, Maine

The Legion played the leading role in the drafting and passing of the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, commonly known as the "G.I. Bill". In addition to organizing commemorative events, members provide assistance at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals and clinics. It is active in issue-oriented U.S. politics. Its primary political activity is lobbying on behalf of interests of veterans and service members, including support for benefits such as pensions and the Veterans Health Administration.[3] It has also historically promoted Americanism, individual obligation to the community, state, and nation; peace and good will.[4]


The Paris Caucus

The American Legion was established in Paris, France, March 15, 1919, by a thousand officers and men, delegates from all the units of the American Expeditionary Forces (A. E. F.) to an organization caucus meeting, which adopted a tentative constitution. The action of the Paris meeting was confirmed and endorsed by a similar meeting held in St. Louis, May 8 to 10, 1919, when the Legion was formally recognized by the troops who served in the United States. The Paris caucus appointed an Executive Committee of seventeen officers and men to represent the troops in France in the conduct of the Legion. The St. Louis caucus appointed a similar Committee of Seventeen. These two national executive committees amalgamated and were the initial governing body of the Legion. The temporary headquarters was located in New York.[5]

List of founding members

The men who initiated the formation of the Legion:[6]


Indiana World War Memorial Plaza, home of the National Headquarters

The national headquarters, informally known as American Legion headquarters, is located on the Indiana World War Memorial Plaza at 700 North Pennsylvania Street, Indianapolis, Indiana. It is the headquarters for the National Commander of The American Legion and also houses the Legion's archives, library, Membership, Internal Affairs, Public Relations, and The American Legion magazine's editorial offices. The headquarters has since experienced multiple expansions since its establishment.[7]


Membership in the Legion was originally restricted to U.S. soldiers, sailors, and Marines who served honorably between April 6, 1917, and November 11, 1918.[8] Eligibility has since been expanded to include military personnel who served on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States, or armed forces associated with the U.S.,[9] between December 7, 1941, through a date of cessation of hostilities as determined by the government of the U.S., and was an American citizen when they entered that service or continues to serve honorably.[10] U.S. Merchant marines who served between December 7, 1941, and December 31, 1946, are also eligible.[11]


The organization's official publication in its initial phase was a magazine called The American Legion Weekly, launched on July 4, 1919.[12] This publication switched its frequency and renamed itself The American Legion Monthly in 1926.[13] In 1936 the publication's name and volume numbering system changed again, this time to The American Legion.[14]

Notable members

Notable members of The American Legion have included:

List of National Commanders

  • Franklin D'Olier, Pennsylvania, 1919-1920
  • Frederic W. Galbraith, Jr., Ohio, 1920-1921
  • John G. Emery, Michigan, 1921
  • Hanford MacNider, Iowa, 1921-1922
  • Alvin M. Owsley, Texas, 1922-1923
  • John R. Quinn, California, 1923-1924
  • James A. Drain, Washington, 1924-1925
  • John R. McQuigg, Ohio, 1925-1926
  • Howard P. Savage, Illinois, 1926-1927
  • Edward E. Spafford, New York, 1927-1928
  • Paul V. McNutt, Indiana, 1928-1929
  • O. L. Bodenhamer, Arkansas, 1929-1930
  • Ralph T. O'Neil, Kansas, 1930-1931
  • Henry L. Stevens, Jr., North Carolina, 1931-1932
  • Louis A. Johnson, West Virginia, 1932-1933
  • Edward A. Hayes, Illinois, 1933-1934
  • Frank N. Belgrano, California, 1934-1935
  • Ray Murphy, Iowa, 1935-1936
  • Harry W. Colmery, Kansas, 1936-1937
  • Daniel J. Doherty, Massachusetts, 1937-1938
  • Stephen F. Chadwick, Washington, 1938-1939
  • Raymond J. Kelly, Michigan, 1939-1940
  • Milo J. Warner, Ohio, 1940-1941
  • Lynn U. Stambaugh, North Dakota, 1941-1942
  • Roane Waring, Tennessee, 1942-1943
  • Warren H. Atherton, California, 1943-1944
  • Edward N. Scheiberling, New York, 1944-1945
  • John Stelle, Illinois, 1945-1946
  • Paul H. Griffith, Pennsylvania, 1946-1947
  • James F. O'Neill, New Hampshire, 1947-1948
  • S. Perry Brown, Texas, 1948-1949
  • George N. Craig, Indiana, 1949-1950
  • Erle Cocke, Jr., Georgia, 1950-1951
  • Donald R. Wilson, West Virginia, 1951-1952
  • Lewis K. Gough, California, 1952-1953
  • Arthur J. Connell, Connecticut, 1953-1954
  • Seaborn P. Collins, New Mexico, 1954-1955
  • J. Addington Wagner, Michigan, 1955-1956
  • Dan Daniel, Virginia, 1956-1957
  • John S. Gleason, Jr., Illinois, 1957-1958
  • Preston J. Moore, Oklahoma, 1958-1959
  • Martin B. McKneally, New York, 1959-1960
  • William R. Burke, California, 1960-1961
  • Charles L. Bacon, Missouri, 1961-1962
  • James E. Powers, Georgia, 1962-1963
  • Daniel F. Foley, Minnesota, 1963-1964
  • Donald E. Johnson, Iowa, 1964-1965
  • L. Eldon James, Virginia, 1965-1966
  • John E. Davis, North Dakota, 1966-1967
  • William E. Galbraith, Nebraska, 1967-1968
  • William C. Doyle, New Jersey, 1968-1969
  • J. Milton Patrick, Oklahoma, 1969-1970
  • Alfred P. Chamie, California, 1970-1971
  • John H. Geiger, Illinois, 1971-1972
  • Joe L. Matthews, Texas, 1972-1973
  • Robert E. L. Eaton, Maryland, 1972-1973
  • James M. Wagonseller, Ohio, 1974-1975
  • Harry G. Wiles, Kansas, 1975-1976
  • William J. Rogers, Maine, 1976-1977
  • Robert C. Smith, Louisiana, 1977-1978
  • John M. Carey, Michigan, 1978-1979
  • Frank I. Hamilton, Indiana, 1979-1980
  • Michael J. Kogutek, New York, 1980-1981
  • Jack W. Flynt, Texas, 1981-1982
  • Al Keller, Jr., Illinois, 1982-1983
  • Keith A. Kreul, Wisconsin, 1983-1984
  • Clarence M. Bacon, Maryland, 1984-1985
  • Dale L. Renaud, Iowa, 1985-1986
  • James P. Dean, Mississippi, 1986-1987
  • John P. Comer, Massachusetts, 1987-1988
  • H. F. Gierke III, North Dakota, 1988-1989
  • Miles S. Epling, West Virginia, 1989-1990
  • Robert S. Turner, Georgia, 1990-1991
  • Dominic D. DiFrancesco, Pennsylvania, 1991-1992
  • Roger A. Munson, Ohio, 1992-1993
  • Bruce Thiesen, California, 1993-1994
  • William M. Detweiler, Louisiana, 1994-1995
  • Daniel A. Ludwig, Minnesota, 1995-1996
  • Joseph J. Frank, Missouri, 1996-1997
  • Anthony G. Jordan, Maine, 1997-1998
  • Harold L. Miller, Virginia, 1998-1999
  • Alan G. Lance, Sr., Idaho, 1999-2000
  • Ray G. Smith, North Carolina, 2000-2001
  • Richard J. Santos, Maryland, 2001-2002
  • Ronald F. Conley, Pennsylvania, 2002-2003
  • John A. Brieden III, Texas, 2003-2004
  • Thomas P. Cadmus, Michigan, 2004-2005
  • Thomas L. Bock, Colorado, 2005-2006
  • Paul A. Morin, Massachusetts, 2006-2007
  • Martin F. Conatser, Illinois, 2007-2008
  • David K. Rehbein, Iowa, 2008-2009
  • Clarence E. Hill, Florida, 2009-2010
  • Jimmie L. Foster, Alaska, 2010-2011
  • Fang A. Wong, New York, 2011-2012
  • James E. Koutz, Indiana, 2012-2013
  • Daniel Dellinger, Virginia, 2013-2014
  • Michael D. Helm, Nebraska, 2014-2015
  • Dale Barnett, Georgia, 2015-2016
  • Charles E. Schmidt, Oregon, 2016-2017
  • Denise H. Rohan, Wisconsin, 2017-2018
  • Brett P. Reistad, Virginia, 2018-2019
  • James W. Oxford, North Carolina, 2019-2020

List of Honorary Commanders

List of past National Commanders by vote of National Conventions

See also



  1. ^ Wheat 1919, pp. 14, 19, 206, 209
  2. ^ "American Legion Day". The American Legion Magazine. Indianapolis, Indiana. September 2016. p. 8. ISSN 0886-1234.
  3. ^ Burtin, Olivier (2020). "Veterans as a Social Movement: The American Legion, the First Hoover Commission, and the Making of the American Welfare State". Social Science History. 44 (2): 329-354. doi:10.1017/ssh.2020.5. ISSN 0145-5532.
  4. ^ Wheat 1919, pp. v, vi
  5. ^ Wheat 1919, pp. 206-207
  6. ^ Wheat 1919, pp. 207-208
  7. ^ American Legion: "Office Locations, accessed December 30, 2010
  8. ^ Wheat 1919, p. 206
  9. ^ National Constitution and By-laws. Indianapolis, Indiana: The American Legion National Headquarters. February 2016. p. 3.
  10. ^ "11 key things to know about the LEGION Act". The American Legion. August 6, 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  11. ^ "Membership in The American Legion". The American Legion Magazine. Indianapolis, IN. September 2016. p. 5. ISSN 0886-1234.
  12. ^ The American Legion Weekly, OCLC 1480272. Master negative microfilm held by University Microfilms, now part of ProQuest.
  13. ^ The American Legion Monthly, OCLC 1781656.
  14. ^ American Legion Magazine, OCLC 1480271.
  15. ^ a b The American Legion Ninth Annual Convention: Official Program and Guide Book. Indianapolis, Ind.: The American Legion. 1927. p. 115 – via Internet Archive.

General sources

Further reading

External links

General information

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