The American Legion story is chiseled in rock, stamped in bronze, codified in law, and inked in the parchment of charters signed nearly a century ago by wartime veterans with a vision.
The centennial of the nation’s largest and most influential veterans organization belongs to all American Legion Family members who have fulfilled – and continue fulfilling – that vision through individual obligation to community, state and nation.
When the American Legion 100th Anniversary Observance Committee drafted a five-year plan in 2013, it identified some important priorities: local and regional involvement, using the legacy of the organization to drive a vision for the second century, and engagement with the entire community, especially those who have benefited from American Legion Family values and services.
Local posts across the land have dug into their scrapbooks and pried open boxes to discover how their Legion families have strengthened communities over the past century. Veterans memorials (2,000 and counting) have been revisited, cleaned up, documented and recorded in a national database. Events have been planned, post profiles (more than 2,900) have been created on the centennial website, and media messages have been developed.
“The Greatest Legislation: An American Legion Centennial Salute to the GI Bill” exhibit is now a year into its nationwide tour, sharing the story of how the measure drafted by our founding generation and shepherded into the 21st century by subsequent Legionnaires changed the world. The traveling exhibit debuted at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans and has since been on display at the Student Veterans of America national convention in San Antonio, Bob Hope Patriotic Hall in Los Angeles, the Montana Military Museum at Fort William Henry Harrison in Helena, and the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum at Camp Dodge in Johnston. More stops are in development.
A Team 100 membership drive is ready for launch, to turn this milestone into growth to help us continue building an even greater legacy in the future.
This is an exciting time to be in the American Legion Family, a time to reflect on the foundation laid for our century of success and use it as a springboard for the next 100 years. Members are encouraged to use the materials developed by the Legion’s National Headquarters to do just that both internally and externally, including the Centennial Celebration Workbook and 100th Anniversary Media Toolkit.
The 100th American Legion National Convention in Minneapolis in August will be like none before, with reflections on past conventions – and war eras – right back to the first in 1919 in the same city, and the birth of the Legion’s first century of service.
Watch this summer for the rollout of a new web platform at www.legion.org/centennial and more as we show our communities, states and nation the timelessness of our values.