All veterans of Kanabec and Pine Counties are invited to an appreciation event from 4-8 p.m. Sept. 20 at the Hinckley Community Center where they can learn about new opportunities to join the American Legion. 

“Not only do we take care of veterans, we take care of the community as well,” said Hinckley American Legion Commander John Rostberg. 

On July 30, 2019 a bill sponsored by Arizona Democrat Sen. Kyrsten Sinema was signed by President Donald Trump. This bill declares that the United States has been in a state of war since Dec. 7, 1941. The LEGION Act (Let Everyone Get Involved In Opportunities for National Service Act) allows anyone who served, and was honorably discharged, from Dec. 7, 1941 to a time to be determined later by the federal government to join the ranks of the American Legion. 

This opens eligibility to join the American Legion to veterans who served during peacetime; previously eligibility was limited to veterans who served during declared periods of war. 

Birth of the American Legion

Nearly a century ago, at the end of World War I, an organization was created that would focus on service to veterans. The American Legion was first conceived of in Paris during November of 1918, while thousands of soldiers were waiting to go home.

The first caucus of the American Legion was held in Paris in March of 1919 by members of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF). The AEF was a formation of the United States Army on the Western Front of World War I, established on July 5, 1917, under the command of General John J. Pershing. At the St. Louis Caucus in May of 1919, the name of the organization officially became “The American Legion.”

Over the past century, the American Legion has supported veterans, given back to communities and helped pass important legislature. Below is an excerpt from a press release from The American Legion headquarters:

A simple publicity statement in the Stars and Stripes was a harbinger for the century of success that would follow. “The AEF as a whole - doughboy, colonel and general working together organized the American Legion this month as its postwar association,” said the article that graced the front page of the legendary newspaper’s March 28, 1919 edition.

It was the first known published article which would name “The American Legion” as an organization of wartime veterans. An amazing string of accomplishments would follow over the next 99 years. Equally amazing was how quickly the organization took root as a powerful national and community force.

Because the Legion is a congressionally chartered organization, eligibility was established by Congress. Membership was open to veterans who served during seven declared periods of war such as WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam and more recently the war on terror. However, there are thousands of veterans throughout the country that served our country in what was considered “peacetime.”

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