The end of World War I saw the beginning of the American Legion, established in 1919 to help better the lives of service men and women. Up to that time, no such federal agency existed.
American Legion Post 86, whose namesake James Whipple gave his life for the cause of freedom in France during what was to be the war to end all wars, marked the centennial with an open house and “birthday” cake on March 16.
In his remarks during the occasion, Post 86 Commander Bill Glass explained how a group of veterans awaiting passage home after the war convened the Paris Caucus during which “they had time to think about life after the war and what they might do:


  • In support of their wounded comrades.

  • In honor of the fallen.

  • To help surviving spouses and orphans.

  • To protect the democracy they pledged their lives to defend.

  • And to chart a new course for future generations of Americans.


These troops envisioned a different kind of veterans association. It would be like none before it, or any that would follow.
The American Legion would be built on strengthening the nation — not serving themselves — through four primary pillars of volunteer work on behalf of: veterans, defense, youth and Americanism.
The Legion, Glass said, would work to change a culture that discounted military service and subjected returning veterans to “racism, sexism, elitism, deficient health care, scant transition programs and public misunderstanding — even ridicule and scorn.”
The Legion helped pave the way for the Veterans Administration in 1930, the Department of Veterans Affairs in 1989, and the GI Bill of 1944.

The American Legion’s groundbreaking research and relentless pursuit of truth has helped countless veterans suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder and health problems related to atomic radiation, Agent Orange, Gulf War Illness, burn pits and other service-connected conditions.
To celebrate the Legion’s centennial, Post 86 members followed a tradition of having the youngest member, Adjutant Tom Moore, and the oldest member, former Commander Bing Ventres, cut the cake with Glass.
They used a traditional Navy ceremonial sword that belonged to Glass’s father, William Glass Sr., who served 30 years in the Navy from the Korean War until the 1970s.
Today, there are nearly two million members of the American Legion.
Veterans are eligible to join if they served during a time of conflict: World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Lebanon/Grenada, Panama, Gulf War/War on Terrorism. Information: legion.org.
If you know a veteran who is not taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the American Legion, let them know there are members who would like to connect with them.
For information on Post 86 at 112 Old Ridgefield Road, email legionpost86@gmail.com or stop by when the post headquarters is open.