This week in American Legion history:
- Nov. 17, 1933: Through a National Executive Committee resolution, The American Legion formally opposes diplomatic recognition of the communist Soviet Union as the legal government of the people of Russia.
- Nov. 18, 1945: At The American Legion National Convention in Chicago, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander Europe in World War II, and life member of The American Legion in Abilene, Kan., receives the organization’s prestigious Distinguished Service Medal.
- Nov. 19, 1927: Howard College defeats Birmingham-Southern College 9-0 in the first football game at Legion Field, named for The American Legion, in Birmingham, Ala. The 21,000-seat stadium, built in one year at a cost of $439,000, draws 16,800 spectators to its inaugural game. Over the years, through multiple expansions, it today seats 71,594, and has been used as a soccer stadium, concert venue and as the site of the Drum Corps International World Championships. Drum Corps International, for high school drum and bugle corps competitors, and Drum Corps Associates for adult participants, which was co-founded by American Legion Past National Vice Commander Dr. Almo “Doc” Sebastianelli, evolved from earlier American Legion drum and bugle corps programs.
- Nov. 21, 1988: Pennsylvania American Legion Housing for Homeless Veterans, Inc., purchases four townhouses in Alleghany County to provide transitional residence and support for veterans who have no place to live. The program soon becomes a national model, expanding into Philadelphia in in 1995, followed by Ephrata and Harrisburg. The program produces an 85 percent success rate of keeping veterans off the streets and on to decent jobs. The project, led by future American Legion National Commander Ronald F. Conley, began with a conversation in October 1987, followed by memorandums of understanding between VA and The American Legion in the summer of 1988.
- Nov. 22, 1963: Immediately following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, World War II U.S. Navy veteran Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn in as president of the United States. A member of Memorial Highway American Legion Post 352 in Blanco, Texas, Johnson was a seated member of Congress on June 21, 1940, when he was appointed to serve as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve. Three days after Pearl Harbor, he was called to active duty and later served under Gen. Douglas MacArthur in the Pacific Theater, where he received the Silver Star. As president, Johnson would be commander-in-chief through the tumultuous early years of the Vietnam War.