The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization. This year the organization is celebrating its 100th birthday.
Members of the American Expeditionary Force convened in Paris for the first American Legion caucus from March 15 to 17, 1919.
A few months later, from May 8 to 10, 1919, the St. Louis caucus was held and the American Legion was adopted as the organization’s official name. A draft preamble and constitution were also approved.
Today the membership stands at nearly 2 million in more than 13,000 posts worldwide, according to the American Legion website.
Effingham American Legion Post 120
Effingham American Legion Post 120 was chartered in 1920, which means it’s celebrating its 99th anniversary this year. The post has about 450 members, according to Finance Officer Bill Copple. It had a membership dinner to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the national organization.
The local legion post has an “Americanism” program in which students give speeches on the U.S. Constitution for scholarships. It supports the Special Olympics, which is held at Illinois State University.
It also supports two American Legion baseball teams: A junior legion team and a senior legion team, with 15 players on each.
Assisted by Disabled American Veterans and Veterans of Foreign Wars, the local legion post also assists with about 30 military funerals each year.
Effingham American Legion Post 120 is part of the Fifth Division, which is made up of 80 local chapters. The Fifth Division supports The Haven in Carterville, Illinois, a place where veterans from the VA hospital can enjoy the outdoors.
Teutopolis American Legion Post 924
In 1945, World War I and II veterans met to organize Teutopolis American Legion Post 924. The charter required 15 members; soon there were 68. The first post commander Raymond Hauser presented the charter on March 10, 1946.
The Siemer family donated a plot of land on Plum Street, where a building was erected in May of 1957 with donations of $1,700 from the Teutopolis Lions Club and $625 from members of the post. The building was used for 32 years.
In 1991, a new building went up on the site thanks to labor donated by the community. It was dedicated in May 1992.
Since moving into the new post building, membership has increased almost every year, according to American Legion Commander for the State of Illinois Roy Weber, a former commander of the post who is now the state commander.
In June 1994, there were 114 members. In June 2019, the post reported 226 members. This contrasts with the national and state trend of declining membership.
The post today consists of World War II, Korean, Vietnam, Granada, Panama, Iraq and Afghanistan military veterans.
“The success of T-town Post 924 is due to the active participation of our American Legion programs and community involvement,” Weber said.
The post has an active color guard, the Poppy program, American essay contest at the grade school, oratorical speech contest, Premier Boys State and Illini Girls State programs.
Weber said the Pearl Harbor breakfast has been sponsored by the post since December of 1946 to commemorate the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.
“The leadership of Post 924 is evident by our younger veterans stepping up as commanders,” he said. “The post has six members that served as district commanders and three have served as division commanders.”
Weber himself is a 30-year member of the post and this year was selected as the state commander.
Dieterich American Legion Post 628
The Dieterich American Legion Post 628 was established in 1920.
According to Post Commander Donnie Dorn, the post has about 76 members and they participate in military funerals, as well as village activities.
The post donates money toward Easter and Christmas for children in the community, the trap shooting team and prize money for the school’s Veterans Day essay contest.
Stewardson American Legion Post 611
Stewardson American Legion Post 611 was chartered in 1920, making it 99 years old this year.
The post was named after Wilbur Braughton and the first commander of the post was Glenn Frede.
Stewardson American Legion Post 611 has launched a fundraising campaign for a new building.
“Our building is across the street next to the post office, and it’s done its job but not it’s time that we get something newer, something better,” said Post Commander Joe Vonderheide.
Fundraising started in November 2018. The post has raised just over $13,000 to put toward the $100,000 goal.
The post holds an Americanism essay contest each year for seventh-12th graders. Prizes are given for the best four essays and monetary prizes are awarded.