Commander’s Speech

WWI and American Legion Centennial

Welcome, I am Nancy Uhland, Commander American Legion Post 539.
We are here at this monument to honor those who died prior to the establishment of the American Legion. These sons of Craven County fell from hostile action, wounds, or of disease while fighting the “War to End all Wars”.
100 years ago, tomorrow, the Armistice to end the Great War went into effect. Even after the Armistice took effect on the 11th hour, of the 11thday, of the 11thmonth, what we now call Veteran’s Day, the sons of Craven County would continue to serve until the end of 1919.
It was in March 1919, in Paris, France, that the American Legion was founded by (those) U.S. World War I military personnel still “Over There” (During the occupation of Europe to) maintaining the peace. These individuals would create an organization dedicated to four pillars of service and advocacy: veterans, military personnel, America’s youth and patriotic values.
We are here to remember, and inform the citizens of Craven County, that (we have)the American Legion has not forgotten and will never forget (. We honor) the tangible and enduring sacrifice and (the) service of those in the Great War which led to our organization’s founding.
The American Legion will also mark its 100th anniversary with celebration events running through Veterans Day 2019. Continuity is maintained with our founders by having a prominent American serving as our Centennial Chairman,Theodore Roosevelt IV, grandson of American Legion co-founder Theodore Roosevelt Jr.
Our founders believed that service and advocacy apply to all of America’s veterans – whether here at home or internationally. The American Legion today consists of over 3 million members in 13,000 posts worldwide to include the District of Columbia, France, Mexico, the Philippines and Puerto Rico.
American Legion membership is open to military personnel and veterans who have served their nation on active duty during wartime. Eligibility has been opened to all who have served on active duty since Aug. 2, 1990, the beginning of continuous U.S. armed conflict in the Middle East and other locations around the planet.
In our nearly 100 years of existence as an organization, the Legion has been instrumental in the creation of several major, and uniquely American Institutions, including formation of the Department of Veterans Affairs, creation of U.S. Flag Code, passage of the GI Bill and more.
In addition, American Legion posts annually:
• Donate more than 3.7 million hours of volunteer service in their communities
• Provide assistance on more than 181,000 VA benefits claims and cases
• Donates more than 80,000 pints of blood to collection centers nationwide, making the Legion the nation’s single largest blood donor
• Awards more than 8,000 medals to Junior ROTC and College ROTC students
• Sponsors more than 2,500 Scouting units serving more than 64,000 young people
• Awards more than $4 million in college scholarships
The American Legion’s 100th Anniversary will be both a celebration of the past and a renewal of the organization’s resolve to continue our service to our veterans, our communities, states and the nation for a second century.
Thank you for being here with us today to honor those who came before, and have made the ultimate sacrifice, for us and our nation.