1955, Maj. Gen. Ellard A. Walsh

Presenting him with the Legion's Distinguished Service Medal in 1955, National Commander Seaborn P. Collins said Walsh "is primarily responsible for the establishment of the National Guard as the principal and most effective reserve component of the Army and the Air Force. He has a distinguished record of military service, exceeding over 50 years, and it still continues."

A charter member of Post 339 in Minneapolis, Walsh fought constantly for legislation in the best interest of The American Legion and the National Guard.

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1954, Maj. Gen. George A. White

After serving in World War I, White pushed for the creation of the Legion. At the 1954 national convention, Past National Commander Stephen Chadwick said he "was insistent that the first organizational caucus should be held in France, but he was equally willing that the permanent organizational meeting be held in America. ... The Paris caucus was George White's brainchild. The spirit of the caucus survives."

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1953, Rep. Royal C. Johnson

As a young congressman who voted against a declaration of war in 1917, South Dakota's Johnson could not live with approving appropriations to support "sending other women's sons into war." So, although he was exempted from service, Johnson voluntarily enlisted in the Army, engaged in battle and was severely wounded. He survived and resumed his congressional career, where he authored the resolution to incorporate The American Legion.

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1951, Gen. Charles P. Summerall

Summerall received the Legion's Distinguished Service Medal at the 1951 national convention, where the soldier, educator, civic leader and humanitarian was praised for his service as commander of the 67th Field Artillery Brigade of the First Division and of the Fifth Corps in France during World War I.

"He was a front-line general, and for his gallantry in action he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross," Past National Commander Ray Murphy said. "He wears many other decorations, including the Distinguished Service Medal of the United States."

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1950, Charles F. Johnson Jr.

A successful businessman, friend of The American Legion and employer of veterans,

Johnson received The American Legion's Distinguished Service Medal in 1950. His family's business, Endicott-Johnson Shoe Corp., played a vital role in the economy of upstate New York and supplied shoes to the Army during both world wars.

"Many thousands of Endicott-Johnson workers served actively in both world wars. Many returned badly wounded," Past National Commander Edward N. Scheiberling told Legion delegates. "All were reinstated with full employment rights preserved."

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1950, Maj. Gen. Milton A. Reckord

A 1950 recipient of the Legion's Distinguished Service Medal, Reckord had a career that spanned the Mexican Expedition, World War I and World War II.

As adjutant general of Maryland's National Guard for nearly 46 years, Reckord was a strong advocate of universal military training, convinced that well-trained units would be better suited for battle if called upon for active duty.

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1950, Rep. Edith Nourse Rogers

The battlefield for Rogers wasn't Europe or the Pacific, but in Congress, where for 35 years she fought for veterans. In 1950, The American Legion honored her with the Distinguished Service Medal.

In his tribute to Rogers, the Rev. Edward J. Carney told Legionnaires, "She was one of the leaders in the fight for sufficient airplanes to make our Air Corps the finest in the world. Her advocacy of a large Navy and her voting record for large appropriations for naval defense are well known."

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1949, George Herman "Babe" Ruth

In 1949, a year after the baseball icon's death, Past National Commander James O'Neil presented the Distinguished Service Medal to Babe Ruth's widow, Claire, saying, "In a land where every man has an even chance to make good, success stories have become a rule. Certainly, the big fellow who started out as a tyke in a Baltimore orphanage wrote one of the brightest."

Inning after inning, game after game, George Herman Ruth became a household name starting in 1914 - first with the Boston Red Sox, then 14 years with the New York Yankees, and ending in 1935 with the Boston Braves.

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1949, Maj. Gen. Frank Parker

When The American Legion awarded a Distinguished Service Medal posthumously to Parker in 1949, his widow, Katherine, told the convention, "The American Legion was ever close to his heart. He had shared your sufferings, your rejoicings and your ambitions both at home and overseas, and he gloried in being one of you.

"On his very last day, what might be termed his final official act was to complete the draft of a national-defense report for The American Legion. Thus, he was with you to the end of his long, active and purposeful life."

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1949, President Harry Truman

At The American Legion's 1949 convention, Truman was called "just one of the guys" as he received the Legion's Distinguished Service Medal. A 30-year Legionnaire and founding member of his post in Independence, Mo., he was the first president from the Legion's ranks. But Defense Secretary Louis Johnson, a past national commander, spoke of a much more common Harry: "In his simplicity, his humility, his charm, his devotion to his friends and his warm understanding of his fellow Americans, our friend and fellow veteran, Harry Truman, never seems to change ...

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