BANDON - The American Legion came to life in Paris, France, March 15 to 17, 1919. War-weary members of the American Expeditionary Forces who had fought to victory in WWI and remained in Europe, restlessly awaiting passage home, gathered for what became known as the Paris Caucus. In the months that followed the armistice of Nov. 11, 1918, 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. Of course, the organization made a high priority of compassionate care and treatment for disabled veterans returning to civilian life. Such care and treatment were desperately lacking in the United States at the time. But The American Legion would reach into many other layers of society, some of which puzzled the public. Why, for instance, does a veterans group operate a nationwide youth baseball program? A speech contest? A mock government for high school students? Why the emphasis on naturalization and citizenship for legal immigrants? And is it really a veterans' job to build city parks, install swimming pools, carve out hiking trails, form community bands, manage ambulance systems, rescue flood victims and lead Boy Scout units? The American Legion would spend the next century firmly establishing that such purposes strengthen the nation.
The National American Legion has its 100th birthday on March 15, 2019. The Bandon American Legion Post 26 will be having a celebration starting at 5 p.m. Friday March 22, at the VFW hall located on Bates Road. The public is invited and it is hoped more veterans will join local members on that day.
American Legion post 26 Bandon Oregon will also be celebrating its own 100th birthday on Aug. 13, the day the post submitted the charter and was accepted into the National American Legion.
From an article that the Bandon Historical museum staff provided from the Bandon Western World, dated August 7, 1919, the headline read: “Apply for American Legion here." The beginning of the Bandon Chapter of the American Legion was started as 12 former military veterans signed a charter to join the American Legion. The signers of that charter were Lynn. E. Osborne (chairman), Vance C. Gartin, J. B. Beddingfield, Harry H. Hunt, Sylvia R. Cotter, Edmund W. Gallier, F. W. Koos, N.C. Jensen, H.R. Johnson, Paul F. Flegel, Jas H. Howe, and D. C. Haworth.
Bandon Post 26 has a long history of helping in the community. The post has given many scholarships to students continuing their education, supported the Sea Cadets, held speech contests and given support to veterans in need of assistance with getting VA health care and disability. The flag pole at the Visitor Center was erected in 1984 and has flown a flag there for 35 years.
To date, Post 26 of the American Legion still exists, with 42 members.
The American Legion honors all of the men and women who have served in the Armed Services of the Untied States of America and they would like to bring in more veterans to their post. Anyone who would like more information can contact Gary Sands (post adjutant) at 541 260-4516 to see if they qualify.