Charles E. Murray Post 186
12091 Cortez Blvd. Brooksville, FL 34613-7350
The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919
as a patriotic veteran ‘organization.
Focusing on service to veterans, servicemembers
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 nearly 2 million
in more than 13,000 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.
Following is a chronology of significant
dates in Legion history:
Members of the American Expeditionary Force
convene in Paris
for the first American Legion caucus.
May 8-10 St. Louis Caucus.
"The American Legion" is adopted as the
organization's official name.
The Legion's draft preamble and constitution
The National Executive Committee
adopts the Legion emblem.
Congress charters The American Legion.
First Legion convention convenes in Minneapolis.
The Constitution and preamble are adopted.
Delegates vote 361-323 to locate the Legion's
national headquarters in Indianapolis,
instead of Washington.
A resolution is passed in support
of Boy Scouts of America.
Today, the Legion is the chartering agency
for more than 1,700 Scouting units
made up of approximately 64,000 youths.
Aug. 9, 1921
The Legion's efforts result in the creation
of the U.S. Veterans Bureau,
forerunner of the Veterans Administration.
Today, the Legion continues to lobby for
adequate funding to cover medical,
disability, education and
other benefits for veterans.
June 15, 1923
The first "Flag Code" is drafted during
a Legion conference in Washington.
Congress adopts the code in 1942.
Today, the Legion is at the
forefront of efforts to pass a
constitutional amendment to protect the
U.S. flag from physical desecration.
July 17, 1925
The Legion creates the
American Legion Baseball program.
Today, more than 50 percent of Major League
Baseball players are graduates of the program.
About 82,000 youths play on
Legion-sponsored teams each year.
The Sons of The American Legion is
officially recognized during the 1932
National Convention in Portland, Ore.
June 23, 1935
The first American Legion Boys State
convenes in Springfield, Ill.,
to help youths gain an understanding
of the structure and operation
of the federal government.
The first Boys Nation, bringing together
youth leadership from all the
Boys State programs,
convenes in 1946.
Today, more than 19,500 young men
participate in Boys State, and
98 in Boys Nation, from 49 of the 50 states.
June 1, 1938
The final round of the
Legion's first annual
National High School Oratorical Contest
is conducted in Norman, Okla.
Today, more than 3,400 high-school students
from around the country compete annually
in the contest, which promotes a
greater understanding of the U.S. Constitution.
Winners receive thousands of dollars
in college scholarships.
Sept. 19-21, 1942:
Preamble to the Constitution of
The American Legion is changed
for the first and only time since
it was written in 1919.
The word “War” is changed to “Wars.”
Dec. 15, 1943
Past National Commander Harry W. Colmery
starts to write in longhand,
on Mayflower Hotel stationery in Washington,
the first draft of what will later become
the "GI Bill of Rights" –
considered the Legion's
single greatest legislative achievement.
June 22, 1944
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs
into law the original GI Bill,
or Servicemen's Readjustment Act, ushering
in monumental changes in U.S. society.
Higher education becomes democratized
after 8 million veterans
go to school on the GI Bill,
get better jobs, buy houses in the suburbs
and raise families. For every dollar spent
on educating veterans, the U.S. economy
eventually gets $7 back.
May 29, 1946
The Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary
present a small, struggling organization
called the American Heart Association
with a $50,000 grant.
The grant inaugurates a nationwide program
for the study, prevention and treatment
of rheumatic heart disease.
May 4, 1950
The Legion votes to contribute funds
to the field of mental health,
thereby playing a key role in launching
the National Association for Mental Health.
July 9, 1954
The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation
Today, more than $11 million has been awarded
to youth organizations and
projects designed to help America's children.
Sept. 1, 1966
The Legion voices great concern over
the fate of prisoners of war in Vietnam.
Today, the Legion urges a full accounting
of all POWs and troops missing in action;
and has formed a special group from among
the nation's major veterans’ organizations
to continue pressing for further
resolution of this issue.
Aug. 24, 1969
The Legion's National Executive Committee
Establishes the National Emergency Fund
as a result of the
effects of Hurricane Camille.
May 1, 1972
The Legion implements a Halloween safety
program for children;
it remains the only national program
of its kind.
April 1, 1975
The Legion-sponsored Freedom Bell goes
aboard the Freedom Train
during its tour of the country in
celebration of the U.S. Bicentennial.
Six years later, the bell is dedicated at
its permanent home in Columbus Plaza,
opposite Union Station in Washington.
Aug. 26, 1982
The Legion presents a $1 million check to
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund for
construction of the Wall in Washington,
becoming the largest single contributor
to the project.
July 21, 1983
The Legion announces its sponsorship
of an independent study
on the effects of exposure to Agent Orange
on Vietnam War veterans.
Congress receives the results of the
"American Legion-Columbia University Study
of Vietnam-era Veterans" in 1989.
Jan. 1, 1989
The Veterans Administration is
elevated to Cabinet-level status
as the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The Legion fought hard for the change,
arguing that veterans deserve representation
at the highest levels of government.
Oct. 16, 1989
The long-standing objective of the Legion
to improve adjudication procedures for
veterans’ claims are achieved when the
U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals becomes operational. Most of the provisions contained
in the law creating the court were originally
included in the Veterans Reassurance Act,
written by the Legion and introduced
in Congress in 1988.
Aug. 2, 1990
The Legion files suit against the
for failure to conduct a Congress-mandated
study about the effects of Agent Orange
on veterans who served in Vietnam.
Oct. 11, 1990
The Legion creates the Family Support Network
to assist families of servicemembers deployed
for operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm
in the Middle East. Through local posts, the
network offers a wide range of assistance,
including financial assistance, mowing lawns,
baby-sitting and more.
Today, FSN continues to assist families affected
by military activation and deployment.
June 15, 1991
The Legion hosts its first Junior Shooting
Sports National Air Rifle Championships
at the Olympic Training Center in
Colorado Springs, Colo.
Today, more than 2,000 high school students
a year enter the contest,
which teaches gun safety and marksmanship.
Aug. 24, 1994
The Legion announces the creation of
the Citizens Flag Alliance,
a coalition of organizations and
united to work for a constitutional
amendment to protect the U.S. flag
from physical desecration.
Since 1995, the amendment has passed in
the House by a supermajority six times:
in 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003 and 2005.
In 2006, the amendment fell one vote short
of passage in the Senate.
Sept. 24, 1994:
The American Legion announces partnership
with the Smithsonian Institute’s Air and
Space Museum to develop an exhibit for
the bomber Enola Gay, which dropped an
atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.
Previous museum plans had drawn
intense criticism from veterans,
scholars and the public.
Jan. 30, 1995:
The American Legion announces acceptance
of scaled-down exhibit
“without political commentary” for the
Enola Gay, ending the greatest controversy
in the Smithsonian Institute’s 149-year history.
Oct. 1, 1995
The Legion forms the Persian Gulf Task Force
to enhance service for the newest generation
of wartime veterans, thousands of whom
suffer from illnesses linked to
their service in the region.
Sept. 16, 1996
The Legion awards a $20,000 college scholarship
to each of the 10 inaugural Samsung
American Legion high school scholars.
June 11, 1997
The National Emergency Fund surpasses the
$1 million mark in cash grants
given to flood victims who belong to the
Legion family. Most grant recipients reside
in the flood plains of Ohio, Kentucky,
Indiana, Minnesota and North Dakota.
Sept. 3, 1997
The Legion presents its first National
Law Enforcement Officer
of the Year award at the 79th National
Convention in Orlando, Fla.
March 29, 2000
Senate Joint Resolution 14, the
that would return the people's right
to protect the U.S. flag
from physical desecration,
falls four votes short of the necessary
67 to override
a presidential veto.
Sept. 5, 2000:
The American Legion presents the first
“Spirit of Service” Awards
to active duty service members for
their off-duty volunteer activities.
Aug. 28-30, 2001:
The American Legion passes resolution
Blue Star Service Banner program.
Sept. 12, 2001:
The American Legion reactivates the
Family Support Network
following terrorist attacks in
New York City and Washington, D.C.
Oct. 10-11, 2001:
The American Legion creates the
American Legacy Scholarship Fund
for children of military members killed on active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001.
Sept. 11, 2002:
The American Legion takes lead in conducting
“A Day To Remember”
events to mark the anniversary of the
terrorist attacks on the nation.
The Legion launches the national
"I Am Not A Number"
campaign to identify
and document the delays veterans face
in obtaining medical care from VA.
Oct. 17, 2003:
American Legion efforts on Capitol Hill
break the deadlock
on the Disabled Veterans Tax when
Congress creates a 10-year phase-in
for service-connected disabled retirees
to receive military retired pay
and VA disability compensation
without subtraction from either.
Legion efforts also result I passage of
the Military Family Tax Relief Act.
Sept. 3, 2004:
American Legion lobbying leads to more
progress in elimination
of the Disabled Veterans Tax with passage
of PL 108-375 that eliminates
the 10-year phase-in for 100 percent
service- connected retirees,
allowing them to immediately begin
receiving both retired pay and
VA disability payments.
Sept 19, 2004:
The American Legion launches a
national program, the Blue Star Salute,
where posts across the country hold
public events to recognize troops,
their families and local businesses on
Armed Forces Day.
May 7, 2005:
The American Legion lobbied successfully
to remove from VA funding
legislation administration-proposed increases
in VA prescription co-payments and
institution of user fee for Priority Group 8
veterans using VA health facilities.
Efforts focus on legislation to provide
mandatory, vice discretionary,
funding of VA health care.
Delegates at the 87th National Convention
in Honolulu unanimously
voice their support for the global war
on terrorism with Resolution 169.
Oct. 17-18, 2007:
The American Legion
National Executive Committee passes
and adopts The American Legion Riders
as a national program of The American Legion.
The first American Legion Riders chapter was
established by American Legion Post 396
in Garden City, Mich., in 1993.
June 30, 2008
President George W. Bush signs into law
Veterans Educational Assistance Act, a
next-generation GI Bill
strongly supported by the Legion.
The bill renews the federal government's
commitment to veterans by providing
them with substantially better
The Post-9/11 GI Bill took
effect Aug. 1, 2009,
and sent an unprecedented number
of veterans to college.
Today, as at its formation, the Legion
remains at the forefront of efforts
to improve education and other benefits
for all veterans.
Oct. 22, 2009:
President Obama signs the Veterans’
Health Care Budget Reform Act of 2009,
“advance funding” for VA appropriations,
a formula that
The American Legion has strongly supported
for many years.
The new law sets funding for VA one year
The entire Legion family bands together and
for Operation Comfort Warriors (OCW)
in PepsiCo's Refresh Everything Project,
submitting the most votes in an
online contest and beating out
hundreds of other groups
and charities to take first place in
the contest's first month. A big part of
getting the word out was the
American Legion Online Update e-newsletter.
This is an early example of the still
growing power of online and social media
to augment everything the Legion does.
Continuing a long-standing tradition
of advocating for timely and
adequate medical care for veterans,
the Legion forms a PTS-TBI Ad Hoc Committee
to both examine current methods by VA and
the Department of Defense of treating
the two conditions, and investigate
The Legion officially begins a relationship
with United Services Automobile Association (USAA), making the veteran-founded
"The American Legion's preferred provider
of financial services."
The purchase of USAA products gains money
for Legion programs.
often give members helpful
financial information and tips
through Legion media.
May 5, 2011:
The National Executive Committee authorized
The American Legion Amateur Radio Club (TALARC)
to promote emergency communications
and disaster preparedness, engage youth in
math and science and facilitate
public communications with our nation’s
federally licensed amateur radio operators
who are veterans.
TALARC membership opened free for members of
The American Legion,
The American Legion Auxiliary and
Sons of the American Legion who are
FCC licensed ham radio operators.
The American Legion Baseball World Series
is held for the first time
in the tournament's new permanent home,
Shelby, N.C. Prior to this,
the tournament had rotated to different cities.
Total paid attendance at the
Shelby contests soars to an all-time high
of 86,000 total.
VA guarantees its 20 millionth home loan.
1936-1937 National Commander Harry Colmery
1943-1944 National Commander Warren Atherton
escorted the original GI Bill of Rights
through Congress in 1944, arguing passionately
for veterans educational benefits,
government-assured health care and
what they called "readjustment allowances."
Today Colmery and Atherton are lauded as the
"fathers of the GI Bill" and its successors.
Aug. 30, 2013:
National Commander James E. Koutz announced
that the American Legion family raised
more than $1.1 million for
Operation Comfort Warriors
during the 2012-2013 fundraising year.
It easily surpassed his original goal
in the midst of a VA waiting-list scandal
that reached up to the deaths
of veterans waiting for care,
The American Legion calls for
of several top officials, including
VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.
The scandal would ultimately engulf
multiple facilities and offices;
the Legion kept the issue in front of
the public and
Congress via articles and testimony.
National Commander Michael D. Helm
announces that Legion Family members
and friends donated more than $4 million
(his goal) to Legion charities and
programs during his year in office.
The Legacy Scholarship is expanded to
children of post-9/11 veterans
who have a combined VA disability rating
of 50 percent or greater.
Created to hold VA employees more accountable,
the Department of Veterans Affairs
Accountability and Whistleblower
Protection Act of 2017 is passed by Congress
in concert with The American Legion.
A longtime goal of the Legion, this legislation
gives the VA secretary
the authority to terminate the employment of
VA employees who do not hold
the standard of the VA’s missions, to
help veterans. The American Legion worked hard
with Congress, VA and others to create and
pass this much needed
The Legion assists in the creation and
eventual passage of the
Veterans Appeals Improvement and
Modernization Act, which modernizes the
current appeals process at the
Department of Veterans Affairs,
forcing VA to render a decision on a
veterans claim within one year.
The American Legion, in concert with others,
creates, advocates for and passes the
Harry W. Colmery
Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2017.
Named after the author of the original GI Bill
and Past National Commander
of The American Legion, the new GI Bill improves
upon the great foundation
that already existed, removing the
burdensome cap to use the education benefit,
along with many other great additions to the
legislation aimed at improving the lives
of veterans and their families.
Denise H. Rohan of Wisconsin is elected
the first woman to hold the role in
the Legion's history.
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