Members of The American Legion National Executive Committee and officers of the organization caught a sneak peek Wednesday morning at a documentary film detailing the rich history of the nation's largest veterans service organization. "History of The American Legion: A National Legacy" will be available for purchase as a DVD this summer.
Proceeds from sales will benefit three Legion programs - the National Emergency Fund, which provides assistance for veterans after natural disasters; the Child Welfare Foundation, which awards grants to organizations that help young people in need; and the Legacy Scholarship Fund, which gives college financial aid to the children of servicemembers who died on or after 9/11.
Blackhorse Productions spent more than 18 months taping interviews, writing and editing the documentary. Executive producers Stephen Grudenic and Jason Heit worked closely with the Public Relations Division at American Legion National Headquarters to arrange interviews and video shoots at a number of Legion events and gatherings, including the 2009 Washington Conference, the 2009 National Convention in Louisville, Ky., and the 2009 Fall Meetings of the NEC in Indianapolis.
The DVDs will be $19.95 each and will be sold through American Legion Emblem Sales and at the 92nd National Convention in Milwaukee. The producers are also marketing the documentary for television broadcast.
The film traces the World War I roots of The American Legion and follows its history through the creation of the GI Bill to the Global War on Terrorism. It describes a veterans organization that quickly sprang to 1 million members and grew to more than 3 million, wielding influence on Capitol Hill in support of America's veterans, military, national security, young people and patriotic values. The film also includes the stories of the American Legion Auxiliary, the nation's largest patriotic women's organization, and Sons of The American Legion.
Among the many Legionnaires and Legion supporters interviewed for the film are American Legion Past National Commanders John Geiger and Robert W. Spanogle (who retired as National Adjutant); World War I veteran and Legionnaire Frank Buckles; U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Texas; 2009 Miss America Katie Stam; Atlanta Legionnaire Vernon Arneson (father of 2010 SAL National Commander Mark Arneson); author and humorist Ben Stein; and many others.
Watch the trailer here.