By Kevin McKinley
In 1919, a group of 20 officers who served in the American Expeditionary Forces (A.E.F.) in World War I were asked to form a committee to suggest ideas on how to improve troop morale in the post war American society.
One officer, U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., proposed an organization of veterans, which became known as the American Legion. After the formation of the American Legion, several women’s organizations wanted to enter an official affiliation with the Legion.
Roosevelt, who was the eldest son of Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, not only served in WWI but was also Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Governor of Puerto Rico (1929–32), Governor-General of the Philippines (1932-33), Chair-man of the Board of American Express Company, and Vice-President at Doubleday Books.
Roosevelt returned to the Army in 1940. Despite a heart condition and debilitating arthritis, he led the first wave of troops at Utah Beach during the D-Day Normandy landings on June 6, 1944, earning the Medal of Honor for his command. He died in France 36 days later, holding the rank of Brigadier General.
Many of the women originally affiliated with the American Legion and the newly formed Auxiliary had served faithfully during the war and wanted to continue to serve. The committee, which Roosevelt helped found, agreed that a new organization should be made up of the women most closely associated with the men of the Legion, and that these women would serve with the Legion, in peace, as they had in war.
At one time, most towns in the US – and especially in the South, had an American Legion hall. This was a place where veterans could meet in fellowship with one another, have meals, and learn about issues having an impact on veterans.
Most American Legion halls also had an Auxiliary component as well.
Today, many of the halls have closed, but many also remain. In Atmore, Post 90 remains active in the community, along with the local American Legion Auxiliary.
At a recent event for the American Legion Auxiliary, Post 90 Auxiliary President Mary Stanley took a moment to speak about the activities of the local Auxiliary in the community.
“Our mission is to support the American Legion and their programs but we also have programs of our own,” said Mrs. Stanley.
“We participate in the Poppy Campaign, whereby Auxiliary members sell poppy ribbons to raise money for local projects and to support vets. We recently used funds from this sale to purchase a special, patriotic styled outdoor bench with a plaque for residents of the William F. Green Veterans Retirement Home in Bay Minette. We also use funds from this program to make and deliver meals to several area shut-in veterans and their families.”
Atmore’s Auxiliary also makes trips to support the local Ronald McDonald House and various children’s hospitals and they donate to such causes.
The American Legion Auxiliary strives to be an effective influence on the lives of young women as well.
“The state level Women’s Auxiliary awards scholarships to young women to help with college and we have an American Legion Junior Auxiliary available to young women from birth to the age of 18,” stated Mrs. Stanley.
To join the American Legion Auxiliary, the individual must be directly related to a veteran who served honorably in the US military or the spouse of an individual having honorably served.
For further information contact American Legion Auxiliary President Mary Stanley at 251-359-0199.