SONS OF THE LEGION
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HISTORY OF THE SONS OF AMERICAN LEGION
Born in the midst of the Great Depression of the 1930's, and almost killed by the one-two punch of two wars, the Sons of The American Legion lives on. The idea of a junior American Legion organization was first discussed at the Legion's 3rd National Convention in 1922. Because so few Legionnaires had yet become parents, the idea had little national appeal. But by the late 1920's, Legion Posts around the nation were enrolling Sons of Legionnaires in junior organizations on their own. These groups were variously known as Legion-Heirs, the Junior Legion, Sons of American Legionnaires, and Sons of World War Veterans.
The Legion's 1930 National Convention created a committee to study the feasibility of a junior Legion. The establishment of the Sons as a non-profit, nonsectarian civilian organization was authorized by action of The American Legion's 14th National Convention in Portland, Oregon in September 1932. The 1933 National Convention officially changed the name of the organization to "The Sons of The American Legion."
The Sons had over 70,000 members in the late 30's and was growing rapidly. But World War II erupted and most Sons marched off, many of them never returned. When Sons returned home after World War II, they found their military service had made them eligible to join the ranks of The American Legion. In the decade between 1946 and 1956, an era, which included the Korean War, millions of ex-servicemen and women, joined The American Legion. Paradoxically, as the ranks of The Legion swelled, membership in the Sons dropped to fewer than 6,000 and the organization flirted with extinction.
However, in 1958, membership inched passed the 10,000 mark then climbed to nearly 17,000 in the early 1960's. Sons celebrated their 50th Anniversary in 1982. At their 1996 National Convention in Salt Lake City, Sons celebrated their Silver Anniversary National Convention. Every year since the establishment of the National Organization in 1972, they have recorded new all-time membership records. In 1990, membership in the Sons exceeded 100,000 for the first time ever. Membership broke the 200,000 mark in 1997.
Preamble to the S.A.L. National Constitution
Proud possessors of a priceless heritage, we male descendants of Veterans of the Great Wars, associate ourselves together as "Sons of The American Legion" 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 true spirit of Americanism; to preserve the memories of our former members and the associations of our members and our forefathers 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 masses; to make right the master of might; to promote peace and good will on earth; to safeguard and transmit to posterity the principles of justice, freedom and democracy; to consecrate and sanctify our friendship by our devotion to mutual helpfulness; to adopt in letter and spirit all of the great principles for which The American Legion stands; and to assist in carrying on for God and Country.
Commander Bill McNamara
Q: I am related to someone who served on active duty during one of the membership eligibilty dates. Can I join the Sons of The American Legion?
A: If your relative who served on active duty during one of the membership eligibility dates and is a member of The American Legion, you may join the Sons of The American Legion.
However, if the qualifying Veteran is deceased you may join the appropriate organization, even if the qualifying Veteran was not a member of The American Legion when living.