Commander, Auxiliary president find historic plaque

On their way to Normandy for the 69th anniversary of the D-Day invasion that liberated France and led to the end of World War II, American Legion National Commander James E. Koutz and American Legion Auxiliary National President Peggy Thomas found the birthplace of America's largest veterans organization.

Indiana Legionnaire Ray Shearer took the commander and president and their party on a tour of historic American Legion sites, including the plaque that hangs along a narrow street near the location of the Paris Caucus of March 15-17, 1919. Cirque de Paris is no longer there, but the plaque identifies the location where World War I troops gathered and formulated plans for The American Legion.

The commander and president also visited Pershing Hall, the home of Paris Post 1 for much of the 20th century. Pershing Hall is now one of the finest restaurants and hotels in Paris, and it maintains much of its early American Legion identity, including "AL" in script in its brass balcony railings and the Legion emblem carved onto the facade, above the entrance.

Koutz and Thomas are spending the remainder of the week visiting the Normandy

American Cemetery, the Brittany American Cemetery and other monuments in northwestern France. They raised the U.S. flag over the Normandy American Cemetery and laid a wreath there on today in memory of the deadly invasion.