History of the American Legion

March 15-17, 1919
The American Legion is founded in Paris at the first caucus by members of the American Expeditionary Force.

May 9, 1919
Caucus meeting in St. Louis adopts 'The American Legion' as the organization's official name. The Legion's draft constitution is approved, and so is its preamble, which begins: 'For God and Country, we associate ourselves together.' The preamble, with its heartfelt dedication to freedom and democracy, is still recited today at official gatherings of The American Legion.

June 9, 1919
The National Executive Committee of The American Legion adopts the Legion Emblem.

September 16, 1919
The U.S. Congress charters The American Legion.

August 9, 1921
The U.S. Veterans Bureau, forerunner of the Veterans Administration, is created as a result of efforts by The American Legion. Today, the Legion continues to lobby for adequate funding of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

June 15, 1923
The first "Flag Code" is drafted during a conference called by The American Legion in Washington, D.C. The code eventually was adopted by Congress in 1942. Today, the Legion is at the forefront fo efforts to gain a constitutional amendment to protect the American flag from physical desecration.

Membership in The American Legion increases to more than one million veterans.

September 19-21, 1942
The Preamble to the Constitution of The American Legion is changed for the first and only time since its creation in 1919 -- the word 'War' is changed to 'Wars'.

October 29, 1942
The American Legion's charter is ameded to allow veterans of World War II to join the organization.

December 15, 1943
Harry W. Colmery, past national commander of The American Legion, writes in longhand on hotel stationery the first draft of what will later become the 'GI Bill of Rights', the Legion's greatest single legislative achievement. Today, the Legion is at the forefront of efforts to improve benefits for this nation's newest veterans, those who've served during Desert Shield/Desert Storm and are serving today in a variety of peacekeeping roles.

June 22, 1944
The GI Bill is signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt.

August 28, 1946
The American Legion membership surpasses three million.

September 1, 1949
The first World War II veteran is elected national commander of The American Legion.

May 4, 1950
The American Legion votes to contribute funds to the field of mental health with the provision that the three major mental health organizations then in existence be amalgamated into one. They accepted this provision and the National Association of Mental Health was born.

December 28, 1950
Korean War veterans are approved for membership in the Legion.

July 9, 1954
The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation is formed. Since that time, the foundation has awarded $4 million to youth-oriented organizations and projects designed to help America's children.

September 1, 1966
Vietnam War veterans are approved for membership in the Legion.

September 1, 1966
The American Legion voices great concern over the fate of POW's in Vietnam. Today, the Legion continues to press for full accounting of POW/MIAs and has formed a special group from among the nations's major veterans organizations to take the lead on this issue.

August 26, 1982
The American Legion presents a $1 million dollar check to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund toward the construction of 'The Wall' in Washington, D.C. The Legion, which had solicited donations from its members, eventually became the largest single contributor to the project.


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