Archived Story

Which Legion was first?

Published 9:13pm Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Here is a trivia question for this week.  If the Edwardsburg American Legion Post is No 365, where is Post No. 1? The post in Tampa near us is No. 152 and in downtown Tampa is Post No. 5.
Little did I realize that such a simple question was going to create a long search. First, the American Legion is a social and mutual-aid veterans organization for members of the United States Armed Forces. The organization was founded in 1919 by veterans returning from World War I.  The organization is headquartered on the Indiana World War Memorial Plaza in Indianapolis and has offices in Washington D.C.  The group now has more than 3 millions members.
One of its primary functions is to lobby on behalf of service members pensions and the VA hospital system. Teddy Roosevelt Jr. the son of the president is credited as being one of the founding fathers. The first national convention was held at 11 a.m. Nov. 11, 1919, in Minneapolis, with 684 delegates from around the United States.
At first only veterans of World War I were allowed to be members.  But in 1942, the membership was changed to included veterans of World War II.  When they realized that the organization might die off when all the veterans of World War I were gone, they extended the membership to those honorably discharged and current personnel of the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corp, Coast Guard or Air Force who served at least one day of active duty during any of the following periods: World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam, 1982 Lebanon War, Grenada, Operation Just Cause (Panama) and the Gulf War.
At the Legion’s 1951 convention in Miami, it formally endorsed its “Back To God Movement,” which promoted regular church attendance, daily family prayer and religious training for children.
In 1973,The Edwardsburg American Legion Post 365 moved into its new building on U.S. 12 from its location on Main Street at the corner of Lake Street, and the building is now the home of Robin’s Nest.
In 1976, an outbreak of bacterial pneumonia occurred in a convention of the American Legion in Philadelphia. This pneumonia killed 34 people at the convention and later became known as the Legionnaires disease.
The post is the basic unit of the Legion and usually represents a small geographic area such as a single town or part of a county. There are more than 14,900 posts in the United States. The post is used for business meetings and a coordinating place for community service projects. Often they host such events as bingo, hunter breakfasts, holiday celebrations and are available to the community or churches as needed. It is also not uncommon for the post to have a bar open during limited hours.
The General John Joseph Pershing Post No. 1 in Washington, D.C. was chartered in May 1919, but there are many Posts numbered 1. Tulsa, Okla.; Denver; Germantown, Wis.; Leonia, N.J.; Minneapolis; and Washington, D.C. all have post No. 1, and there may be more. The numbering system was not available.
So which one is Post No. 1? Why are there so many No. 1s and who was first? Sounds like another routine called “Who’s on first?”

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