Adjutant's Updates

History of The American Legion

Good morning Legionnaires and veterans advocates, today is Tuesday, July 14, 2020, which is National Mac & Cheese Day, Pandemonium Day, National Tape Measure Day and Shark Awareness Day.

The rest of this week in Legion History:

  • July 16, 1927: The initial 213 acres of what would become The American Legion and People’s State Forest in the Pleasant Valley area of Connecticut are donated to the state by the organization. Legionnaires of the First World War make the donation to demonstrate from their experiences in Europe the proper way to manage a forest.
  • July 16, 1952: The Veterans Adjustment Act is signed into law as a readjustment benefits package for those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces during the Korean War. The 52-20 unemployment benefit is reduced to $26 for 26 weeks, rather than $20 a week for 52 weeks, as provided under the original GI Bill. Funds are also no longer dispersed directly to institutions but are paid to individual veterans at a flat rate of $110 per month, to cover tuition, fees, books and living expenses while they are at college.
  • July 17, 1925: The idea of American Legion Baseball originates in Millbank, S.D. Sioux Falls attorney and South Dakota American Legion Department Commander Frank G. McCormick invites Maj. John L. Griffith to speak at the department convention. At the time, Griffith is commissioner of the Western Conference (later the Big Ten). He speaks to Legionnaires about the importance of athletics in the development of youth. That leads to the establishment of the first American Legion Baseball teams that summer in South Dakota. The idea spreads quickly across the nation, and a resolution at the 1925 national convention in Omaha in October makes it a national program, set to begin in 1926.
  • July 18, 1944: Past American Legion Department of France and Paris Post 1 Commander George Aubrey is shot and killed by Nazi soldiers, during World War II German occupation of Paris, while on patrol with fighters of the French Resistance.
  • July 18, 1979: Long promoted by The American Legion, National POW/MIA Recognition Day is accepted, to be recognized annually on the third Friday of September. The day of commemoration aims to honor the commitment and sacrifices made by this nation’s prisoners of war and those still missing in action, as well as their families.
  • July 19, 1918: Col. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., is shot through the right leg with a machine gun during battle near Soissons, France.  He is evacuated in the sidecar of a motorcycle before catching an automobile ride to a Paris apartment where his wife, Eleanor, a YMCA wartime volunteer, is staying. Roosevelt, Jr. tells his wife he wants no medical care. He asks for a bath, a hot meal and a quart of champagne. Against his wishes and at his wife’s insistence, a surgeon arrives and, certain the wound will infect and force amputation, he transports Roosevelt, Jr. to a hospital and cuts an 8-inch incision behind his knee to clean it. Roosevelt, Jr., would limp for the rest of his life, having lost all feeling in his heel.   According to “The American Legion Story,” (1919) by George S. Wheat, Roosevelt, Jr. met a Sgt. William Patterson, who was also recovering from a leg wound at Base Hospital No. 2 in France. According to this account, Roosevelt, Jr. explained that Sgt. Patterson said he wanted nothing more than to return to the front and fight with his unit. Patterson told Roosevelt, Jr., that his longer-term plan was to “go home and start a veterans’ association for the good of the country” after the war. Soon after he was released from the hospital, according to Wheat’s history, Sgt. Patterson is killed in action.