There are many things people don’t know about the American Legion, but Paul Kennedy hopes to change that.
Kennedy, a past vice-commander of American Legion in Western Pennsylvania, will be the guest speaker at The American Legion 100th Anniversary celebration at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Allegheny-Kiski Valley Heritage Museum in Tarentum.
“The American Legion has been at the forefront of change,” Kennedy said. “The organization was instrumental in changes at VA Hospitals, and we are out there for veterans and their families. We need to help our veterans.”
According to the American Legion website, the Legion was chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization devoted to mutual helpfulness.
The nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization is committed to mentoring youth, sponsoring wholesome community programs, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security and continued devotion to fellow service members and veterans.
Kennedy was in Erie last week for a similar talk. He said people came up to him and said they weren’t aware of all the support the American Legion gives and what it has done, such as being the founder of the GI Bill and the extended GI Bill.
Many people know about the monthly meetings and some have seen the magazine, which has monthly features and interviews that explore national issues, health care, global security, history and travel.
“We are a family and we are here to help veterans and their families,” said Kennedy, who was in the Army for 40 years and belongs to Post 90 in the North Hills. “The American Legion is the largest veterans organization in the world, and we are doing really well.”
The American Legion welcomes all branches of the service.
“And there is no rank among us,” Kennedy said. “We all belong to the same family no matter where or when you served. The American Legion has survived 100 years because we have done what we said we are going to do. We take care of families. We have followed what our founding fathers started and we have kept on moving forward.”
Hosting this event in the museum has a deeper meaning because it was originally American Legion Post 85, constructed by World War I veterans in 1931, said Jim Thomas, president of the Allegheny-Kiski Valley Historical Society board. After World War II, the ballroom was updated with reflective blue Carrera glass walls and etched with American Legion insignia and World War II battle names.
In 1967, the building was donated to the Allegheny-Kiski Valley Historical Society, which was being founded.
“This is an important landmark date,” Thomas said. “We will be talking about this 100th anniversary in a building that used to be an American Legion. It is really important to remember history as well as look forward to what the American Legion has done and will do.”