Because John Philip Sousa was a charter member. New York Athletic Club (NYAC) Post 754 – on the 12th floor of the storied building located across from Central Park – received its initial charter in November 1919, but the famed composer had been a member of the NYAC itself since 1913.
Born in 1854, Sousa composed more than 150 marches and served as a music leader/director in what were then the three U.S. military branches: the Marine Corps, the Army and the Navy, the latter two during World War I.
By 1932, according to the post’s page on The American Legion’s Centennial Celebration site, Sousa had reached the rank of commander and was also "the oldest living member of the Legion in New York State." On Feb. 11, 1932, a dinner given in his honor in the NYAC gymnasium drew a packed house and baseball player Lou Gehrig as one of the special guests. The dinner turned out to be well-timed – Sousa died less than a month later, on March 6, at 77.
Find more Legion stories at www.legion.org/centennial.