The American Legion was formed March 15th, 1919 at a meeting held in Paris, with the stated mission of providing advocacy and services to the veterans of World War 1, similar to the Civil War organizations the Grand Army of the Republic and the United Confederate Veterans. The Legion was chartered by Congress on Sept. 16th, 1919, (U.S. Code, Title 36, Chapters 41-50).
The Legion’s 1st national convention was held in Minneapolis beginning Nov. 10, 1919, and the 101st was just concluded at Indianapolis. The Legion’s mission has been expanded over the last hundred years and now encompasses all of the veterans who served in WW1 or after Dec. 6th, 1941. Although not either the only or the oldest U.S. veteran’s organization, the Legion is by far the largest, numbering nearly 2 million members, including me.
James ‘Jim’ Whitfield was a 70 year member of the Legion who served as the Missouri Veteran’s Affairs Commissioner and the Executive Director of the Legion’s Headquarters. He was an early member of the Kansas WW1 Centennial Committee and his American Legion contacts were very helpful in getting us started.