American Legion

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:


March 15-17

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

are approved.

June 9

The National Executive Committee

adopts the Legion emblem.

Sept. 16

Congress charters The American Legion.

Nov. 10-12

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.


 September 1932

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

 is formed.

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

federal government

 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

individual citizens

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

constitutional amendment

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

to rekindle

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.

November 2002

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.

August 2005

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

Resolution 35

 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

the Post-9/11

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

education benefits.

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

in advance.

February 2010

The entire Legion family bands together and

 wins $250,000

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.  

October 2010

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 

potential alternatives. 

December 2010

The Legion officially begins a relationship

 with United Services Automobile Association (USAA), making the veteran-founded

insurance company

 "The American Legion's preferred provider

of financial services."

The purchase of USAA products gains money

for Legion programs.

USAA representatives

often give members helpful

 financial information and tips

through Legion media.

May 5, 2011:

The National Executive Committee authorized

 establishment of

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.

August 2011

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.

October 2012

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

of $500,000.


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

the resignations

 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.

August 2014:

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.

July 2016:

The Legacy Scholarship is expanded to

children of post-9/11 veterans

who have a combined VA disability rating

of 50 percent or greater.

June 2017:

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

veteran-centric legislation.

August 2017:

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.

August 2017:

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. 

August 2017:

Denise H. Rohan of Wisconsin is elected

national commander,

the first woman to hold the role in

the Legion's history.







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Richard Kooken -email