The American Legion was chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization devoted to mutual helpfulness.
There are more than 2.3 million members of the Legion, making it the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization.
The American Legion has nearly 14,000 posts in every community in the United States. In addition to posts in every state, the Legion has posts in the District of Columbia, France, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.
In 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the original GI Bill, or Servicemen's Readjustment Act, ushering in monumental changes in U.S. society. Six months earlier, The American Legion wrote the first draft of what later became the "GI Bill of Rights" – considered the Legion's single greatest legislative achievement. Higher education becomes democratized after 8 million veterans go to school on the GI Bill, get better jobs, buy houses in the suburbs and raise families.
On Aug. 9, 1921, a Legion-led effort resulted in the creation of the U.S. Veterans Bureau, which later became the Veterans Administration.
The first "Flag Code" is drafted during a Legion conference in Washington in 1923. Congress adopts the code in 1942. Today, the Legion is at the forefront of efforts to pass a constitutional amendment to protect the U.S. flag from physical desecration.
The Legion donated $1 million to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund for construction of the Wall in Washington, becoming the largest single contributor to the project.
The Legion announces its sponsorship of an independent study on the effects of exposure to Agent Orange on Vietnam War veterans. Congress receives the results of the "American Legion-Columbia University Study of Vietnam-era Veterans" in 1989.
Today, more than 2,000 high school students annually participate in the Legion’s Junior Shooting Sports National Air Rifle Championships at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. The first event was held in 1991.
In 2010, The American Legion’s Operation Comfort Warriors program won first place and $250,000 in PepsiCo's Refresh Everything Project. OCW received the most votes in an online contest and defeated hundreds of other groups and charities to take first place.
The American Legion provides free, professional assistance -- for any veteran -- in filing and pursuing benefits claims before the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Legion Baseball was formed in 1925 during an American Legion South Dakota Department state convention. By 1926, Legion Baseball posts in 15 states developed. Today, the program registers more than 5,400 teams in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico.
Approximately 20,000 young men annually participate in Boys State, a Legion program dedicated to promoting leadership. Boys State alumni include former President Bill Clinton, news commentator Tom Brokaw, professional basketball player Michael Jordan, astronaut Neil Armstrong and many more
Since 1938, The American Legion National High School Oratorical Program: “A Constitutional Speech Contest,” has presented participants with an academic speaking challenge that teaches important leadership qualities, the history of our nation’s laws, the ability to think and speak clearly, and an understanding of the duties, responsibilities, rights and privileges of American citizenship. Many politicians and news anchors have been participants, including CNN anchor Lou Dobbs.
Since 1919, American Legion posts have sponsored more than 2,500 Scouting units across the country. And annually, the Legion honors an Eagle Scout of the Year with a $10,000 scholarship.