Who received the Legion’s first posthumous Distinguished Service Medal?
Frank Knox, Secretary of the Navy during World War II, and a founding member of The American Legion.
Knox, a native of New Hampshire, was instrumental in organizing The American Legion’s Department of New Hampshire and served as its first commander. He had previously served in the Spanish-American War and World War I. By 1936, he was a conservative newspaperman who ran as vice president alongside Governor Alf Landon of Kansas on that year’s Republican presidential ticket. Against incumbent Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Landon/Knox ticket carried only Maine and Vermont.
Although Knox opposed Roosevelt’s domestic policies, he agreed with him on foreign affairs and promoted it in his newspapers. Thus, he accepted the offer from FDR to become Secretary of the Navy in 1940.
Knox served in that position until his death in April 1944, just a few months before his wife, Annie, accepted The American Legion’s Distinguished Service Medal posthumously on his behalf; and almost exactly a year before Roosevelt’s death.