Legionnaires and visitors have the opportunity to view a selection of pieces from the Emil A. Blackmore Museum at The American Legion's National Headquarters from the comfort of their homes.
A virtual tour of the museum is available at www.legion.org/virtualtour. There, the national library's staff has selected a cross-section of items, with an eye to both visual appeal and each item's showcasing of an aspect of the Legion experience. The history of the organization is illustrated by items such as the gavel and block used to preside over the first national convention in Minneapolis in 1919; the wars Legionnaires have fought in through a captured Viet Cong AK-47; and Legion programs and causes presented by items such as a promotional bat from the 1965 American Legion World Series, held in Aberdeen, S.D.
In fact, the tour even offers a few sights not on view in the museum. A statue of St. Michael the Archangel - sheathing his sword as a sign of the ending of God's wrath through a plague upon Rome - was presented to the Legion at the third national convention in Kansas City, Mo., by General Armando Diaz, head of Italy's military forces in World War I. The inscription, in Italian on the statue, reads: "To The American Legion and to its officials and members, who fought with valor on the bloody battlefields of the Great War at the side of the soldiers of Italy. With affectionate memory of comradeship. General Diaz, Rome, October 1921". The appearance of St. Michael in Rome symbolizes the United States' entry into the war. Due to its age and condition, the statue is currently in storage.
Emil A. Blackmore was the national adjutant of The American Legion from 1956-1967, when he died in office. A 1967 NEC resolution named the museum after Blackmore, due to his "deep personal interest" in it. It is believed to have been Blackmore who was the driving force behind pulling together the historical items that had collected around headquarters and making a proper showplace out of them.
Anyone interested in viewing the pieces in person is welcome to visit the museum at National Headquarters in Indianapolis. Its hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. The museum is closed on weekends and national holidays.