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American Legion

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American Legion
EstablishedMarch 15, 1919
(105 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)
Rev. Daniel Seehafer (WI)
Since August 2023
Daniel Wheeler (VA)
Since October 2008
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
PublicationThe American Legion
SubsidiariesSons of The American Legion
SecessionsForty and Eight

The American Legion, commonly known as the Legion, is a patriotic organization of U.S. war veterans headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. It comprises state, U.S. territory, and overseas departments, in turn, made up of local posts. It was established in March 1919 in Paris, France, by officers and men of the American Expeditionary Forces (A.E.F.).[1] In September 1919, it was chartered by the U.S. Congress.[2]

The Legion played the leading role in drafting and passing the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, commonly known as the "G.I. Bill". In addition to organizing commemorative events, members assist 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 goodwill.[4]


The Paris Caucus

The American Legion was established on March 15, 1919, in Paris, France, by delegates to a caucus meeting from units of the American Expeditionary Forces (A.E.F.), which adopted a tentative constitution. The action of the Paris Caucus was confirmed and endorsed by a similar meeting held in St. Louis, Missouri, from 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 archives, library, Membership, Internal Affairs, Public Relations, and The American Legion magazine's editorial offices. The national headquarters has expanded multiple times since its establishment.[7]



The World War I Victory Button on a narrow circular band of blue enamel, containing the words "American Legion" in gold letters, forms the central element of the American Legion Emblem.[8] The Legion emblem or "button" was officially adopted by the National Executive Committee of The American Legion on July 9, 1919.[9]



Membership in The American Legion was originally restricted to soldiers, sailors, and marines who served honorably between April 6, 1917, and November 11, 1918.[10] Eligibility has since been expanded to include personnel who served on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States or armed forces associated with the U.S.,[11] between December 7, 1941, through a date of cessation of hostilities as determined by the federal government, and was an American citizen when they entered that service or continues to serve honorably.[12] U.S. Merchant Marines who served between December 7, 1941, and December 31, 1946, are also eligible.[13] Honorary, associate, social, or guest memberships in the Legion are not permitted. Members must be eligible through the nature and timing of their military service.[14]

The following is a list of eligibility dates the American Legion uses to determine membership eligibility.[11][12]

Eligibility dates
War era Start date End date
World War I April 6, 1917 November 11, 1918
World War II – present December 7, 1941 Open



The official publication, originally known as The American Legion Weekly, launched on July 4, 1919.[15] In 1926, the Legion Weekly reduced the frequency of publication and was renamed The American Legion Monthly.[16] In 1936, the publication's name and volume numbering system changed again, this time to The American Legion.[17]

The American Legion Digital Archive online offers scans of "American Legion magazine, national meeting digests, newsletters, press releases, and other publications published by the national organization."[18]

Notable members


Notable members of The American Legion have included:

List of national commanders

  1. Franklin D'Olier, of Pennsylvania, 1919–1920
  2. Frederic W. Galbraith, Jr., of Ohio, 1920–1921
  3. John G. Emery, of Michigan, 1921
  4. Hanford MacNider, of Iowa, 1921–1922
  5. Alvin M. Owsley, of Texas, 1922–1923
  6. John R. Quinn, of California, 1923–1924
  7. James A. Drain, of Washington, 1924–1925
  8. John R. McQuigg, of Ohio, 1925–1926
  9. Howard P. Savage, of Illinois, 1926–1927
  10. Edward E. Spafford, of New York, 1927–1928
  11. Paul V. McNutt, of Indiana, 1928–1929
  12. O. L. Bodenhamer, of Arkansas, 1929–1930
  13. Ralph T. O'Neil, of Kansas, 1930–1931
  14. Henry L. Stevens, Jr., of North Carolina, 1931–1932
  15. Louis A. Johnson, of West Virginia, 1932–1933
  16. Edward A. Hayes, of Illinois, 1933–1934
  17. Frank N. Belgrano, of California, 1934–1935
  18. Ray Murphy, of Iowa, 1935–1936
  19. Harry W. Colmery, of Kansas, 1936–1937
  20. Daniel J. Doherty, of Massachusetts, 1937–1938
  21. Stephen F. Chadwick, of Washington, 1938–1939
  22. Raymond J. Kelly, of Michigan, 1939–1940
  23. Milo J. Warner, of Ohio, 1940–1941
  24. Lynn U. Stambaugh, of North Dakota, 1941–1942
  25. Roane Waring, of Tennessee, 1942–1943
  26. Warren H. Atherton, of California, 1943–1944
  27. Edward N. Scheiberling, of New York, 1944–1945
  28. John Stelle, of Illinois, 1945–1946
  29. Paul H. Griffith, of Pennsylvania, 1946–1947
  30. James F. O'Neill, of New Hampshire, 1947–1948
  31. S. Perry Brown, of Texas, 1948–1949
  32. George N. Craig, of Indiana, 1949–1950
  33. Erle Cocke, Jr., of Georgia, 1950–1951
  34. Donald R. Wilson, of West Virginia, 1951–1952
  35. Lewis K. Gough, of California, 1952–1953
  36. Arthur J. Connell, of Connecticut, 1953–1954
  37. Seaborn P. Collins, of New Mexico, 1954–1955
  38. J. Addington Wagner, of Michigan, 1955–1956
  39. Dan Daniel, of Virginia, 1956–1957
  40. John S. Gleason, Jr., of Illinois, 1957–1958
  41. Preston J. Moore, of Oklahoma, 1958–1959
  42. Martin B. McKneally, of New York, 1959–1960
  43. William R. Burke, of California, 1960–1961
  44. Charles L. Bacon, of Missouri, 1961–1962
  45. James E. Powers, of Georgia, 1962–1963
  46. Daniel F. Foley, of Minnesota, 1963–1964
  47. Donald E. Johnson, of Iowa, 1964–1965
  48. L. Eldon James, of Virginia, 1965–1966
  49. John E. Davis, of North Dakota, 1966–1967
  50. William E. Galbraith, of Nebraska, 1967–1968
  51. William C. Doyle, of New Jersey, 1968–1969
  52. J. Milton Patrick, of Oklahoma, 1969–1970
  53. Alfred P. Chamie, of California, 1970–1971
  54. John H. Geiger, of Illinois, 1971–1972
  55. Joe L. Matthews, of Texas, 1972–1973
  56. Robert E. L. Eaton, of Maryland, 1972–1973
  57. James M. Wagonseller, of Ohio, 1974–1975
  58. Harry G. Wiles, of Kansas, 1975–1976
  59. William J. Rogers, of Maine, 1976–1977
  60. Robert C. Smith, of Louisiana, 1977–1978
  61. John M. Carey, of Michigan, 1978–1979
  62. Frank I. Hamilton, of Indiana, 1979–1980
  63. Michael J. Kogutek, of New York, 1980–1981
  64. Jack W. Flynt, of Texas, 1981–1982
  65. Al Keller, Jr., of Illinois, 1982–1983
  66. Keith A. Kreul, of Wisconsin, 1983–1984
  67. Clarence M. Bacon, of Maryland, 1984–1985
  68. Dale L. Renaud, of Iowa, 1985–1986
  69. James P. Dean, of Mississippi, 1986–1987
  70. John P. Comer, of Massachusetts, 1987–1988
  71. H. F. Gierke III, of North Dakota, 1988–1989
  72. Miles S. Epling, of West Virginia, 1989–1990
  73. Robert S. Turner, of Georgia, 1990–1991
  74. Dominic D. DiFrancesco, of Pennsylvania, 1991–1992
  75. Roger A. Munson, of Ohio, 1992–1993
  76. Bruce Thiesen, of California, 1993–1994
  77. William M. Detweiler, of Louisiana, 1994–1995
  78. Daniel A. Ludwig, of Minnesota, 1995–1996
  79. Joseph J. Frank, of Missouri, 1996–1997
  80. Anthony G. Jordan, of Maine, 1997–1998
  81. Harold L. Miller, of Virginia, 1998–1999
  82. Alan G. Lance, Sr., of Idaho, 1999–2000
  83. Ray G. Smith, of North Carolina, 2000–2001
  84. Richard J. Santos, of Maryland, 2001–2002
  85. Ronald F. Conley, of Pennsylvania, 2002–2003
  86. John A. Brieden III, of Texas, 2003–2004
  87. Thomas P. Cadmus, of Michigan, 2004–2005
  88. Thomas L. Bock, of Colorado, 2005–2006
  89. Paul A. Morin, of Massachusetts, 2006–2007
  90. Martin F. Conatser, of Illinois, 2007–2008
  91. David K. Rehbein, of Iowa, 2008–2009
  92. Clarence E. Hill, of Florida, 2009–2010
  93. Jimmie L. Foster, of Alaska, 2010–2011
  94. Fang A. Wong, of New York, 2011–2012
  95. James E. Koutz, of Indiana, 2012–2013
  96. Daniel Dellinger, of Virginia, 2013–2014
  97. Michael D. Helm, of Nebraska, 2014–2015
  98. Dale Barnett, of Georgia, 2015–2016
  99. Charles E. Schmidt, of Oregon, 2016–2017
  100. Denise H. Rohan, of Wisconsin, 2017–2018
  101. Brett P. Reistad, of Virginia, 2018–2019
  102. James W. Oxford, of North Carolina, 2019–2021
  103. Paul E. Dillard, of Texas, 2021–2022
  104. Vincent J. Troiola, of New York, 2022–2023
  105. Rev. Daniel J. Seehafer, of Wisconsin, 2023–2024

List of honorary commanders


List of past national commanders by vote of national conventions


See also





  1. ^ Wheat 1919, pp. 14–15, 206
  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. S2CID 218778378.
  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. ^ "The Insignia of the American Legion". The American Legion Weekly. Vol. 1, no. 5. New York: The Legion Publishing Corporation. August 1, 1919. pp. 1, 24. ISSN 0886-1234 – via Internet Archive.
  9. ^ Rumer 1990, p. 156
  10. ^ Wheat 1919, p. 206
  11. ^ a b Amer. Legion Const. art. IV, § 1.
  12. ^ a b "11 key things to know about the LEGION Act". The American Legion. August 6, 2019. Retrieved August 8, 2019.
  13. ^ "Membership in The American Legion". The American Legion Magazine. Indianapolis, IN. September 2016. p. 5. ISSN 0886-1234.
  14. ^ Amer. Legion Const. art. IV, § 2.
  15. ^ The American Legion Weekly, OCLC 1480272. Master negative microfilm held by University Microfilms, now part of ProQuest.
  16. ^ The American Legion Monthly, OCLC 1781656.
  17. ^ American Legion Magazine, OCLC 1480271.
  18. ^ "American Legion Digital Archive". archive.legion.org. Retrieved May 5, 2023.
  19. ^ 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

General information