DAVENPORT, Iowa -- It was 100 years ago that the U.S. Congress chartered the American Legion, a service organization for veterans. Post 26 in Davenport marked the milestone with a celebration on Sunday, May 19, for local servicemembers, veterans and active duty, and members of the community.
Major General Chris Gentry of First Army spoke of the Legion’s long history with First Army, dating back to 1918. Soldiers returned from World War I with terrible scars, emotional and physical.
“From this post-war exhaustion emerges the American Legion,” he said.
The American Legion’s emblem contains a nod to World War I with a star in the middle symbolizing victory. Post 26 marked the day with a rededication of the emblem, a piece of history dug out and saved from the Legions’ old location at the dock on Davenport's riverfront.
Congressman Dave Loebsack and his wife were among the guests. Loebsack highlighted the sacrifice of the men and women in uniform, and their families. He also acknowledged the diminishing numbers of members, especially younger ones, with the American Legion, telling the crowd that he urged young service members to join the legion wherever he could.
"It's a national trend," said Joe Seier, Post 26's Public Affairs Officer. "Once you get out of the service, you want a break, maybe you don’t want to revisit those memories for a while. After a while, maybe a decade, they tend to miss it, they I want to talk to someone about this episode."
He said he had gone through a similar experience after having served as combat engineer, an active duty advisor for National Guard in Davenport, as well as time on active duty time in Colorado and Germany.
After his retirement, it took a decade for him to get involved with American Legion Post 26.
He said young veterans are always welcome, "doesn’t matter how long of a break you had in service."
"We kind of understand some of the problems you went through and maybe we can help you with it and help you integrate further into the community," he said.