100 Years of the American Legion
by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer
For the past 20 years, Bob Lawson has been a member of the American Legion. After serving in the United States Air Force from ’68 to ’72, and in the U.S. Army during the Gulf War, Lawson’s sense of pride in his country was amplified. He had served his country, and upon returning home, he was ready to serve his immediate community next.
“I was encouraged to join by Legion and Auxiliary members of Post 51. Every Legion Post is required a minimum of 15 members to maintain its charter. Since the membership was low here in Sewanee, that was a good reason to get involved. Of course later, I found out there’s more to the Legion than just membership,” he said.
Much, much more, in fact.
The American Legion, which was chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919, is a veterans organization devoted to mutual helpfulness, according to their website. The Legion evolved from a group of World War I veterans who had grown weary of wartime efforts and trauma, and over the years, the Legion grew exponentially. Today, it is one of the most influential nonprofit groups in the U.S. This year, the organization is celebrating its 100th year.
During the past 100 years, membership doubled in size, and today, there are nearly 2 million members in more than 13,000 posts worldwide.
Lawson said the Legion is built upon four pillars: Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation; National Security; Americanism and Children and Youth. The Legion is committed to mentoring youth and sponsoring community programs, as well as advocating for patriotism, promoting national security and backing service members, past, present and future.
Lawson said through those four pillars, the Legion has done great work during the last 100 years. His hopes for the next 100 years are that the Legion continues to support veterans and their communities through local programs and posts.
“I hope we continue the existing programs and adapt and expand with new ones if necessary. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with hoping for 100 years of peace,” he added.
To apply for membership to the American Legion or to verify eligibility, visit www.legion.org