FODPAL was organized in the early 1950s. There are no records in The American Legion National Library before 1962; include minimal meeting minutes and newsletters.
The first recorded FODPAL commander was Ralph Westerfield of Puerto Rico, who held the position from 1962-1971. Since then, FODPAL elections have been held at the Annual FODPAL Breakfast during the National Convention, and the term of office is one year. We have no records from 1978-1980 and 1982-1983. FODPAL commanders have hailed from Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Mexico, Canada, France, Italy, the Panama Canal Zone, China Post 1, Hawaii and Alaska.
Over the years, several Past National Commanders (PNCs) have shown their support for FODPAL. For their dedication and support, FODPAL has elected them Honorary FODPAL Commanders. Congratulations and thank you to PNC John “Jake” Comer, PNC William Detweiler and PNC Clarence Bacon.
At the 2010 National Convention in Milwaukee, Jimmie Foster from the Department of Alaska was elected national commander, the first from a FODPAL department.
Correspondence dated 30 September 1919 and October 1919 between Mr. Reynolds, managing editor of the Chicago Tribune, and Mr. Henry D. Lindsley, chairman of the National Executive Committee of The American Legion, was some of the first writings regarding the organization of The American Legion in France. This correspondence designated LTC. Francis E. Drake as the organizer.
On 9 November 1919, Drake was accredited as the commander of the Department of France by the national headquarters of The American Legion.
Drake remained commander of the Department of France from 1919 until 1921, with Norman B. Coster as the department adjutant. The department’s status at this time was that of Accredited Only.The actual approval of the Department of France occurred at the National Executive Committee meeting held on 7 February 1921 in Washington; but considerable discussions were held on chartering American Legion departments and posts in foreign countries. Since the fact that the idea of The American Legion itself was born in Paris, France, it was decided to charter American Legion departments and posts in foreign countries, and the Department of France was created with posts in Belgium, France, Germany, Poland and Turkey.
At the American Legion National Convention held in Kansas City, Mo., from 31 October 1921 through 2 November 1921, it was decided to assemble the posts in Europe under a new title: The Department of Continental Europe. At this time there were six posts: Paris Post # 1, Paris, France; Brussels Post # 2, Brussels, Belgium; Amaroc Post # 3, Cologne, W. Germany; Warsaw Post # 4, Warsaw, Poland; Constantinople Post# 5, Constantinople, Turkey; and Garden of Eden Post # 6.
At the National Executive Committee held on 14 October 1923, in San Francisco, Paris Post#1 submitted a resolution to the National Executive Committee requesting that the Department of France be reconstituted because many of the posts that made up the Department of Continental Europe had ceased to exist and Paris Post # 1 was the only post remaining. It was decided by the National Executive Committee to approve the re-establishment of the Department of France.
The present Department of France charter was conferred on 12 February 1924, with the geographical area covering Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Spain and Sweden.
At the Department of France convention held on 22 - 25 June 1991, in Bitburg, Germany, the delegates voted and approved the Eiffel Tower as the symbol of the Department of France.
Today the official department headquarters is found at the Hotel De Vile in St. Avold, France, with other offices located in Heidelberg, Germany. The department is responsible for the posts located in the following countries of Europe: Belgium, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain.
For more information about the department’s history and the location of posts within The Department of France, please contact Max Rice at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IN CONGRESS ASSEMBLED – approved on September 16, 1919, the Act to Incorporate THE AMERICAN LEGION.
Although the records have been lost, it is a known fact that a branch of The American Legion was established in the city of Montreal during the year of 1919. It became known as Montreal Yankee Post 1. It officially changed its name in 1924 to Montreal Post 1 when it became the headquarters for the newly chartered “Department of the Dominion of Canada.” Its mandate asked for the creation of American Legion posts throughout the Dominion of Canada. Eventually, 10 posts were formed within the department – from Vancouver to St. John’s, Newfoundland. In 1992, this department surrendered the charter for Arctic Circle Post 15, (when its last member passed away) to National Headquarters in Indianapolis. The members of this particular post worked on the Alaskan Highway during World War II, and this post alone received “Commendations” from two U.S. presidents.
The Department of Canada was a member of FODPAL (Foreign and Outlying Departments and Posts of The American Legion). National Headquarters assigned the American Legion posts in Australia and New Zealand to this department, and when Hawaii officially became a state those posts were reassigned to the new Department of Hawaii, while the two posts in Southern Ireland were moved from the Department of France into the Department of Canada.
At the stroke of midnight on September 8, 1994, the Department of the Dominion of Canada ceased to be! On the subject of foreign departments, Internal Affairs Commission Resolution 33 – in summary – canceled the charters of the departments of Italy, Canada and Panama; reassigned the Department of Italy and the two Irish posts to the Department of France with Panama going to the Department of Mexico; then reassigned the remaining nine posts in Canada to the nearest contiguous U.S. departments. Membership in the Department of Canada at its closure was 551.
The four posts in Ontario were assigned to the Department of New York and have remained as members of FODPAL. The four posts were attached to the 8th District (western N.Y.) and since the Department of New York had an Ontario County, it was decided to name this new county “Canada County.”
The nine remaining posts were: Montreal Post 1, Winnipeg Post 3, Toronto Post 5, Charles A. Dunn Post 7 (Vancouver, B.C.), Fort Pepperell Post 9 (Newfoundland), Ottawa Post 16, Tony Mathews Post 18 (Hamilton), Calgary Post 20 and Toronto Post 21 (Scarborough)
Today we are officially known as The American Legion, Department of New York, Canada County within the 8th District. There are 63 counties within the Department of New York.
TORONTO POST CN05 was “chartered” on March 26, 1931, in a ceremony at the department headquarters in Montreal. On March 3, 1931, “The Star-Spangled Banner” was named as America’s national anthem, a mere 23 days before Toronto received its charter, the very same year Nevada became a state. Then on March 6, 1934, the City of Toronto was officially named TORONTO – just to put things into perspective.
From the Department of New York Headquarters in Albany, N.Y., Toronto Post 5 officially became Toronto Post CN05 as it was issued its new charter on September 19, 1994, as were Ottawa Post CN16, Hamilton Post CN18 and Toronto Post CN21.
Respectfully submitted, Bob Winder