March 15, the designated birthday of The American Legion, is the day in 1919 when the first American Legion caucus, held by members of the American Expeditionary Force, convened in Paris. Much as the birthday of the United States is celebrated on July 4 – for the day in 1776 when revolting patriots declared the independence of the British colonies and the spirit of America was born – March 15 is the date on which the Legion came to life.
The American Legion is a Veterans Service Organization, also known as a VSO. It is “the nation’s largest” wartime veterans service organization. It is a nationwide VSO that offers a large number of local programs as well as national efforts to support wounded warriors and their families. It is a non-partisan and non-profit organization that participates in fundraising, activism, and advocacy for veterans, and has a grass-roots effort to get the attention of lawmakers in Washington D.C. It is run on volunteer efforts and its success “depends entirely” on its volunteers.
Its purposes are described in its preamble:
- To uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America
- To maintain law and order
- To foster and perpetuate 100% Americanism
- To preserve the memories and incidents of our associations in all wars
- To inculcate a sense of individual obligation to the community, state, and nation
- To combat the autocracy of both the classes and the masses
- To make right the master of might
- To promote peace and goodwill on earth
- To safeguard and transmit to posterity the principles of justice, freedom and democracy
- To consecrate and sanctify our comradeship by our devotion to mutual helpfulness