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Margaret's Musings: The American Legion turns 90

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opinion River Falls, 54022

River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the annual American Legion birthday party for my home post, Ingalls-Keoppen Post 102. Now I know I am not a veteran and technically have never belonged, but I grew up in that post. I attended everything from the fund-raising carnivals the post sponsored for most of my childhood years to the Memorial Day parades that I still try to get home for.

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My dad is still an active member, my uncle and my aunt were members - all of them were World War II veterans - and my mom is still a member of the American Legion Auxiliary.

Poppy sales, Badger Boys and Girls State, the oratorical contest, scholarships and Legion Baseball are some of the programs you might be familiar with, not to mention the graveside services Legion members provide for veterans of all wars.

For years, my dad was the go-to man for the services. He rustled up enough members and carried his little cassette tape recording of taps when a real trumpet wasn't available, and away they went to cemeteries throughout the southern Wisconsin area.

The recent party was a good reminder that even though the organization is 90 years old this year, its members are still providing valuable services. As part of the evening, all six of the students sent to Badger Boys and Badger Girls State in 2008 shared their experience with the 50 American Legion members and veterans' widows attending the dinner. Members were honored for years of continuous membership and service, one having reached the 60-year mark. Overall, the event reminded us that the many men and women who have served and continue to serve in the Armed Forces need support from organizations like the Legion. The community benefits from the Legion, too, with all the community work the organization continues to do and support.

Oddly enough, the American Legion was founded in Paris in March 1919. The year was a big one for the organization and by November of that year, it had adopted an emblem, drafted its constitution with its well-known preamble, held its first national convention in Minneapolis, determined it would be headquartered in Indianapolis, passed a resolution supporting Boy Scouts of America, and was chartered by Congress as a patriotic, war-time veterans organization, devoted to mutual helpfulness.

Today, the not-for-profit, community-service organization has nearly 3 million members, men and women, in nearly 15,000 American Legion posts worldwide. Over the decades it has been an effective lobby for veterans benefits and continues today to work for both veterans and active-duty personnel. The Legion also has tried to encourage patriotism in many ways.

Here is a little quiz for you regarding the Pledge of Allegiance, compliments of the American Legion. See how you do (see attached PDF file).

In Hudson, Otis H. King Post 50 currently has 135 members. The organization is an active sponsor of Legion Baseball and Badger Boys State. It also participates in the honor guard, serving at funerals, parades and other public functions. Otis H. King was a Hudson dentist who was killed in action on Sept. 19, 1918, in France, a year before the American Legion was founded.

The preamble to the American Legion Constitution, which members recite regularly, reads:

"FOR GOD AND COUNTRY WE ASSOCIATE OURSELVES TOGETHER FOR THE FOLLOWING PURPOSES: To uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America; to maintain law and order; to foster and perpetuate a one hundred percent Americanism; to preserve the memories and incidents of our associations in the Great 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."

In Hudson, Otis H. King Post 50 currently has 135 members. The organization is an active sponsor of Legion Baseball and Badger Boys State. It also participates in the honor guard, serving at funerals, parades and other public functions. Otis H. King was a Hudson dentist who was killed in action on Sept. 19, 1918, in France, a year before the American Legion was founded.

The preamble to the American Legion Constitution, which members recite regularly, reads:

"FOR GOD AND COUNTRY WE ASSOCIATE OURSELVES TOGETHER FOR THE FOLLOWING PURPOSES: To uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America; to maintain law and order; to foster and perpetuate a one hundred percent Americanism; to preserve the memories and incidents of our associations in the Great 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."

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