The American Legion Auxiliary History
Initially, the Auxiliary was organized by concerned women who took on the day-to-day responsibilities of life when their male family members went across the sea during World War I. Aware of the many fatherless families and the need of returning veterans, Auxiliary women vowed to continue their supportive roles when the veterans of World War I founded The American Legion in 1919. Auxiliary members today are wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, granddaughters of these courageous veterans. Some members are vetrans themselves. The Auxiliary was itself founded in 1919. In 1920 the Auxiliary was officially chartered by Congress. It is currently the largest patriotic women's service organization in the world.
The first National Conference was convened in Kansas City, MO in 1921 where The Poppy of Flanders Field became the memorial flower of the Auxiliary. I wondered why a Poppy and discovered that "In Flanders Fields" was one of the most famous poems about World War I. It was written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae after he wintessed the death of his friend. The poppies referred to in the peom grew in great quantities in Flanders, Belgium where casualties had been burried.
In 1927 it was decided that only veteran-made poppies would be distributed by the Auxiliary. In the year of 1934 the Auxiliary established its Junior Membership Program and in 1937 The Girls State Program was created.
In 1944, during the 2nd World War, the Auxiliary's program for the rehabilitation of disabled veterans was created. This was followed by the first Girls Nation being held in Washington, D.C. in 1947. In 1953 (the year the Korean War Cease-fire Agreement was signed) saw the convening of the first Women's Forum on National Security. 1980 saw some changes in the Auxiliary with the first Awareness Assembly being held in Washington, D.C., replacing the Women's Forum.
1980 also was the year in which the Pine Island Post 136 was officially created, followded by the Auxiliary in 1981. In 2002, in response to the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, the Auxiliary donated nearly $100,000 to the various relief efforts. In 2007 the Auxiliary began an endowment fund for the National Presidents Scholarship entitled, "Education Children of Warriors."
The mission of the Auxiliary is clear and to the point. The statement is as follows: To support the American Legion programs for veterans, young people and community. To provide for today's needs while being advocates for a brighter future. To advance the understanding of partiotism and responsibility of citizenship. To promote individual integrity and family values. To ensure as volunteers, that Auxiliary Members continue to be the leaders in all that is good in this nation today, tomorrow and for generations to come through servind others firs and no self.
This history was prepared by Auxiliary member Carlene Sharples.
"IN FLANDERS FIELDS"
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the corpses, row on row
That mark our place in the sky
The larks still bravely fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.