No. 472, American Legion, World War I
This is a continuation of a large booklet that debuted last Memorial Day, "Armistice Day Celebration, American Legion, Johnstown Post, No. 472, Souvenir Program". Friday, Nov. 11th, 1921.(At: Introduction, American Legion).
'LEST WE FORGET'
OFFICERS OF JOHNSTOWN POST 472
Henry S. Gage,
Dr. F. M. Neuendorf
No. 472, American Legion
Harry S. Gage, Commander William C. Hespelt, Adjutant Dr. F. M. Neuendorf, First Vice-Commander Anthony Wilt, Treasurer Floyd V. Walters, Second Vice-Commander A. Scidmore Fulton, Historian Harry L. Schumann, Third Vice-Commander Edward C. MacIntyre, Chaplin
James E. Knox
John E. Wells
Charles P. Tymeson
George A. Dorn, War Risk Officer
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Johnstown Post, 472, American Legion, was organized in the Fall of 1919, and during the two years of its existence has grown to be an organization comprising in the neighborhood of one hundred and fifty former service men of the city, actively working toward the aims for which the American Legion was founded.
The movement locally in this direction had its start in the formation of a Johnstown Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Club, begun early in that year as the “boys” began to return home after being discharged from service. Joseph R. Younglove was president of the club.
Later, interest was aroused in the organization of a Legion Post and a meeting was held in Kennedy Hall, as a result of which an application was made for a charter, which in time was received.
George A. Dorn was named as the first Commander of the new Post, which had fifteen charter members, as follows; George A. Dorn, A. Scidmore Fulton, Joseph R. Younglove, Everett G. Pittman, Thomas P. Flaherty, Ayton F. Smith, James P. Dunn, Dr. F. M. Neuendorf, James A. Northrup, Charles Newnham, Edward W. Shults, Jr., George Wassung, Clarence R. Liddle, Percy Lamb and Floyd V. Walters.
William L. Kennedy, Jr., succeeded George A. Dorn as Commander and he in turn was followed by Harry S. Gage, who was recently honored by his election to that office for a second term.
Johnstown Post, 472, was active in promoting an annual Armistice Day celebration, the first of which was held last year, has had a number of dancing parties and other entertainment’s, staged a bonus parade on the eve of election a year ago, and has a substantial sum laid away in an athletic fund as the result of a big field day program held this summer.
Impressive funeral services carried out with full military honors, have been held for each of the young men from Johnstown who died or were killed in service, a final tribute on the part of their former ‘buddies’ as they were placed in their last resting place after being returned from camp or overseas.
The local Post has been represented at each of the three State conventions held thus far and also at the first National convention. It has taken its place in the community, and may the years to come bring with them continued growth and success to Johnstown Post, 472.
FLOYD VAN HEUSEN WALTERS, Second Vice-Commander
HARRY L. SCHUMANN, Third Vice-Commander
History of The American Legion in New York State
By F. G. Crawford, State Historian
Thought not known by that name, the American Legion was conceived at a dinner held at a French Military Club in Paris on February 15, 1919. The father of the American Legion is Col. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.; thus New York State looks with pride on the distinguished son of a distinguished father as the founder of the Veterans’ Association of the World War.
At a caucus held in Paris, just one month from the initial meeting, the temporary organization was completed, and Executive Committee was appointed, and the great project was launched. The problem of transplanting the American Legion, as the new organization was called, to the States, and in particular to New York State was the next matter to be considered. WILLIAM C. HESPELT, Adjutant
ANTHONY WILT, Treasurer
The Legion spread throughout the Army in Europe and the idea became firmly fixed in the minds of officers and men, that the new organization was to become a great force. New York men all over France caught the inspiration of the Legion, and a nucleus of men was made there. Organization was delayed until the Army was demobilized.
Early in April, 1919, a temporary State Committee was appointed for the Empire State, the Chairman of which was Major General John F. O’Ryan, and the Secretary, Major Cornelius W. Wickersham. These men, with a committee of twenty-one, divided the State into five districts and appointed a district committee with a temporary chairman, to begin the work of organizing each district into posts. The chairmen of these districts were; Dist. No. 1, New York, Lt. Col. Wade H. Hayes; Dist. No. 2, Brooklyn, Brig. Gen. Chas. W. Berry; Dist. No. 3., West New York, Major Parton Swift; Dist. No. 4, Central New York, Lt. Col. J. Leslie Kincaid; and Dist. No. 5, Hudson River, Raphael A. Egan. These men appointed in each county of their districts a chairman, and the ground plan of the American Legion was thus laid.
The first National Caucus, held at St. Louis, became the initial task of the Temporary State Committee, and a caucus was held in each district to elect delegates. New York had ninety-two delegates present who were among the most important in the convention. Col. Roosevelt acted as Temporary Chairman, and Col. Wood as Temporary Secretary. The permanent national organization was launched and the New York delegates came back to make their State first in membership. State Headquarters functioned in New York City at 140 Nassau Street, with Cornelius W. Wickersham as State Chariman, and Hugh W. Robertson handled the publicity and organization work. Mr. Wickersham continued the work until July 1, when business compelled his resignation, and the Steering Committee elected Ogden L. Mills to fill the vacancy.
The District Chairman distributed the application blanks and the Posts were started all over the State. The first charter of a Post of the American Legion in New York State was issued June 2, 1919, the membership being confined to the delegates who attended the first Paris Caucus and the delegates to the St. Louis Caucus. This was known as Pres. Theodore Roosevelt Post. Applications for charters followed in rapid succession and exactly two months later the charter for the two hundredth post was issued. On August 15, the State organization reported 278 Posts chartered and 200 additional Posts formed for which charters had not been issued. On October 15, 1919, National Headquarters reported 674 Posts chartered in New York State, the best record of any State of the Union. This record was accomplished by the efficient State organization which was at the same time developing a program for the Legion that would be of value to the ex-soldier. A State War Risk Insurance officer was appointed; action was taken to have bill presented to the State Legislature which would safeguard the veteran.
JOHN E. WELLS, Trustee
JAMES E. KNOX, Trustee
This work was brought to a climax in the first state Convention held in Rochester, October 10-11, 1919. The Committee on Resolutions considered two hundred resolutions and over thirty bills. The result of their work was the recommendation that committees be appointed to consider matters of legislation, military affairs and Americanization, and recommendations were adopted in regard to War Risk insurance and the bonus. Russell E. Sard was elected State Commander and undertook the completion of the permanent organization of the State. Mr. Sard resigned in February, 1920, and Ward H. Hayes became State Commander.
At the National Convention held in Minneapolis, November 10-11, 1919, New York was represented by forty-seven delegates and in membership the State was third, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania being first and second.
The year 1920 was the most fruitful for the Legion. An enthusiastic group of Legionnaires, a strong central organization made possible our 170 per cent increase in membership which placed the New York State Department first at the second National Convention held in Cleveland in 1921. At the second State Convention held at Albany, September 10-12, the State Commander reported the progress, which had been made. During this year State Headquarters were moved first to 54 Wall Street, through the generosity of the firm of J. W. Seligman, and in the summer took quarters in the Hall of Records. The paid-up membership of the Legion had increased to 73,000, which made the New York Department first in the United States. During 1920 the State Department aided in the passage of the Sweet Bill which increased compensation for disabled men; of the Darrow Bill which provided for an increase of pay of the Federal Board for Vocational Education; and of the Fordney Bill through the House of Representatives.
GEORGE A. DORN , War Risk Officer
EDWARD C. MacINTYRE, Chaplain, Johnstown Post 472
Many acts valuable to the ex-soldier were passed through the State Legislature, including the State Bonus, public sentiment being developed by the Legion Posts. A Service Section investigated many cases and aided the soldiers in obtaining back pay, medical treatment, compensation, allotments, bonuses and Liberty Bonds. This work was continued through 1921 and has been one of the great services of the State Department. The Woman’s Auxiliary was started and at the close of 1920, seventy-five had been formed.
The year 1920 was a year of great progress and prosperity. Chas. D. Blakeslee of Binghamton was elected State Commander, bringing to his high post experience as a district chairman and as a member of the National Executive Committee. He continued the policies of former State Commanders and led wisely during the period of reconstruction. The Legion has prospered. It has accomplished much for its members; Civil Service preference has again been passed and will now be distributed; the Service Section has continued its activities, and the Americanization Committee has functioned.
In cities and towns club houses and homes for the Posts have been started. The Legion with its 940 Posts, its 85 Auxiliaries, had a total membership of 100,000, and the seeds sown carefully in the years of its inception have grown and borne fruit. In these three years it has maintained its high principles, it has stood for law and order, and its record has brought to it support from all classes. At the State Convention recently held at Jamestown, William F. Deegan was elected State Commander, a fitting recognition of his splendid services in behalf of the Legion.
THE OBSERVANCE of ARMISTICE DAY
At the eleventh hour of the mist-hung morning of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, an entire world threw off the spell of war and stood upright in a new age. It was as if another Easter had come.
Three years have passed since the runners dashed across the battlefields of France and carried to the farthest outposts the order to cease firing. And now on the eve of November 11th, 1921, the nations are going back to the spirit of November 11th, 1918.
To America, as the whole world, Armistice Day will hereafter be essentially a day of rejoicing, but this year a note of solemnity dominates the harmony of our joy in peace. Our duty to our dead, that they may receive part of their need of honor, will be discharged to the best of our ability in the burial of an unknown American soldier – representative of all unidentified American dead of the world war – whose body is being brought from a battlefield of France to rest at last in the central amphitheatre of the Arlington National Cemetery.
At the instant the body is being lowered, the nation, by proclamation of President Harding, will stand in silent prayer for two minutes – from 12 o’clock noon until 12:02.
The burial of the unknown soldier will be part of an elaborate ceremony reflected all over the country. Representatives of every department of the American Legion, Congressional Medal of Honor men, high dignitaries of Congress and the cabinet, will march bareheaded by the casket of the one body to which honor will be done in the name of many. With them will go high officers of other nations, representatives at the great congress of nations on the limitation of armaments, ambassadors and ministers. The whole world will do honor to America’s Dead.
The Legion programs for the observance of Armistice Day will be guided everywhere by the solemnity of the occasion at Washington, but everywhere, too, Legionnaires will impress upon America that the day to them is fraught with the highest memories of the living. Facilitated by laws in more than a score of States making November 11th a legal holiday. Legion Posts will not permit interest to lag in the communities.
Armistice Day must assume a definite character to the community at large. Memorial Day is now observed by rule of established custom. The American Legion will standardize in like manner the observance of Armistice Day. Honor to the dead of the World War will always hold a conspicuous place in the rituals to be evolved. The custom of firing minute guns at sunrise, to be established this year, probably will survive at Army and Navy posts and stations.
A Post Commander in Ohio says: “It’s up to us to make the people want to celebrate Armistice Day.” That’s the idea. November 11th is to the ex-service men a day of ceremony in memory and in rejoicing. The acquisition of equal respect for the occasion by men and women not so personally interested rests with ex-service men themselves.
Ways and means of bringing the right point of view to others must be left to individual posts, but the ideal back of the celebration will always be the same. In some places, public ceremonies will be held at which the names of the dead will be read to assembled citizens, with the sounding of “taps” as a climax for the meeting. Rotary and Kiwanis clubs, labor organizations and fraternal societies will be found everywhere anxious to aid the great fraternity of militant veterans. Theatrical producers and managers will be glad to co-operate. They will be found willing to interpolate Armistice Day features in their regular programs. They can show war films and play war music. Armistice Day is one occasion when “The Star Spangled Banner” may be played in a theatre without cheapening the sentiment back of the song. Legionnaires may take precedent from the four minute men of war days and explain to congregations of people everywhere the meaning of the day as well as the meaning of their organization.
The lighter activities of the day will do much to add precedents as well as pleasure in public consideration of Armistice Day. Dances, fireworks, community singing and other social entertainments are widely planned for the evening of November 11th. Many Posts are planning to hold pageants, such as the one prepared for Community Service. Original pageants also are planned. Athletics may have a place in the observance. Last year the Legion distributed Victory Medals to members, but more or less privately. This year the Legion will have an opportunity for more formal conduct, and the Legion will have an opportunity for more formal conduct, and the Legion will conduct itself to the best advantage.
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