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The American Legion History

March 16, 1926: Sgt. Stubby dies in his sleep. The only known canine to become an official – rather than honorary – member of The American Legion, the celebrated bull terrier was a stray who wandered into a training camp of the 102nd Infantry Division at Yale University in the spring of 1917. Attracted to the availability of regular chow from the soldiers, he closely befriended Cpl. Robert Conroy. Stubby soon learned to salute officers with his paw, was smuggled overseas and served alongside Conroy in the Yankee Division. He is recorded as having been involved in no fewer than 17 battles. He famously alerted his unit of a mustard gas attack in time to save them. Gassed himself in one German assault during the war, the Army designed a custom gas mask for him. He located wounded troops on the battlefield and comforted the dying. He was wounded by a grenade and, after recovering in the rear, returned to the front where he was in fact credited with rousting a German from the bushes and chasing him – barking and snapping – to his unit where he was taken prisoner. Following the war, Stubby made headlines nationwide, met with top military leaders and presidents of the United States. He marched in the first American Legion National Convention in Minneapolis in November 1919 and was made an official member of Eddy-Glover American Legion Post 6 in New Britain, Conn. Also after the war, he served as the Georgetown University football team mascot. Stubby wore a medal-covered vest and harness, with which he could carry a U.S. flag, in his appearances at veterans event, including several early American Legion national conventions. Included on his vest are distinguished guest badges from early American Legion national conventions and the Iron Cross from the German he captured. He was later stuffed and displayed at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., where his vest is today kept. An animated movie, “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero,” debuted in theaters nationwide in April 2018.

 

March 17, 1919: Lt. Col. Thomas W. Miller of Delaware, a former member of Congress who enlisted as an infantryman in the Army after an unsuccessful re-election campaign, brings the final day of the Paris Caucus to order. Without a gavel to start the meeting, he pulls from his pocket an 1873 silver dollar, which he always carries with him, and raps it on a table. The day’s business includes choosing the organization’s name, membership eligibility criteria, establishment of an executive committee and the preliminary drafting of a preamble to The American Legion Constitution. Miller would later serve as a national Legislative Committee co-chairman, would co-author the organization’s federal charter, serve on the National Executive Committee both for Delaware and Nevada, and in 1968 would be elected Past National Commander by a vote of the 50th American Legion National Convention in New Orleans.
After much debate on the final day of the Paris Caucus, in a motion reportedly accelerated by hunger just before lunchtime, “American Legion” is chosen and adopted as a temporary name for the association.

 

March 17, 1919: On the evening after the final session of the Paris Caucus, the first American Legion Executive Committee gathers, chaired by Milton J. Foreman of Chicago, with George A. White of Oregon as secretary and Richard C. Patterson as assistant secretary.

 

March 17, 1944:The American Legion’s Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 unanimously passes in the Senate.

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