American Legion Auxiliary Chronology of Events

1919 The American Legion Auxiliary was first established to support The American Legion and our nations veterans.
1920 Minnesota is the first Auxiliary Department.
1921 First National Convention convenes in Kansas City, MO. The Poppy of Flanders Fields becomes the memorial flower of the Auxiliary.
1922 Gold Star Mothers and Le Societe desHuit Chapeaux et Quarante Femmes (Eight et Forty) are established.
1923 The four-petaled crepe paper poppy became the official memorial flower of The American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary and an Auxiliary Poppy Committee was appointed to define the manufacture and distribution of the official Memorial Poppy. Auxiliary Child Welfare Committee is established.
1925 The Auxiliary moves its National Headquarters to the War Memorial Plaza in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Auxiliary joins the Federation Interalliee des Anciens Combattants (FIDA), formed by WWI Allied nations to promote peace.
1927 At the Paris Convention, it was decided that only veteran-made poppies would be distributed by the American Legion Auxiliary. The National Auxiliary Bulletin is distributed monthly.
1928 Christmas Gift Shops are set up in veterans’ hospitals to provide veterans with gifts for the families.
1930 The Auxiliary celebrates its 10th year and begins community construction programs to employ the jobless.
1931 The National Poppy Committee announced that 11,272,189 poppies were made by disabled veterans and distributed by Auxiliary volunteers. Membership reached 412,063 members.
1933 Congress passes legislation like The Legion/Auxiliary Four Point Program to protect the benefits of veterans.
1934 The Auxiliary establishes Junior membership.
1935 The Auxiliary sponsors a radio program, “The American Legion Auxiliary on the Air.”
1936 The National Auxiliary Bulletin becomes the National News. The Auxiliary created its first media award, highlighting the producer of a program, which would typify American, appeal to patriotism and benefit the nation’s children.
1937 The American Legion Auxiliary’s Girls State program is created. Auxiliary members observe the 20th anniversary of WWI with a pilgrimage to France.
1939 The Auxiliary severs ties with FIDAC as war in Europe intensifies. The Auxiliary’s Pan American program is established.
1941 Japan attacks Pear Harbor and American declares war on Japan. The Auxiliary donates six mobile blood units to the Red Cross and creates the Emergency Voluntary Committee to support the war effort.
1942 The National Defense Committee focuses on recruiting Army and Navy nurses. The Auxiliary establishes scholarships and sponsors 1,000 student nurses to fulfill this growing need.
1943 The Auxiliary donates Red Cross Club Mobiles to Italy and India. The Auxiliary mourned the passing of Molina Michael, “The Poppy Lady”.
1944 The Auxiliary rehabilitation program for disabled veterans is created. The Auxiliary celebrates its Silver Anniversary in Chicago.
1945 The Auxiliary’s Red Book directory of officers and chairmen is first published.
1946 The Auxiliary and Legion support action to expose and combat the growing influence of communism. A five-point program is developed to strengthen Americanism. The Child Welfare program directs assistance to children in war ravaged France. Delegates at the San Francisco convention increase national dues to 50 cents for Senior members to finance distribution of the National News.
1947 The Community Service Committee proposes youth recreation centers to help solve the growing problem of juvenile delinquency and incorporates the Red Cross blood donor program in Community Service. The American Legion Auxiliary sponsors the first Girls Nation session conducted in Washington, D.C.
1948 National News circulation increases to more than 900,000 and changes to tabloid newspaper format. The Auxiliary escalates its Americanism program to counter communism in Europe and Asia and sponsors the special “Freedom Train” exhibit.
1949 The Auxiliary and Legion support the House Un-American Activities Committee and urge legislation to curb suspected communist activities in the U.S. The Legion/Auxiliary’s “Tide of Toys” program collects and ships more than 3,000,000 donated toys to Europe.
1950 The first Golden Press/Golden Mike media awards are presented. The Auxiliary celebrated its 30th year; membership reached 980,205.
1951 National News returns to a pocket-sized format. The combined efforts of the entire Legion family yield donations of $7,000,000 to assist veterans’ children. The 8 & 40 establishes tuberculosis clinics at VA hospitals and contributes to child welfare projects.
1952 The Auxiliary airs poppy television spots. More than 26 million poppies are made by 9,693 veterans, earning $366,284 and contributions of nearly $2 million for disabled veterans and their children. A new “G.I Bill of Rights” grants benefits to Korean War veterans. Helen Hayes receives a Distinguished Service Award for her films and her work against polio.
1953 The first Women’s Forum on National Security convenes in Washington. Community Service supports the “Crusade for Freedom,” Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Asia. The Auxiliary sends clothing to Korean orphans. Ten new VA medical centers are built for a total of 170 hospitals. Departments conduct training schools, adding 4,020 new hospital volunteers for a total of 12,200.
1954 Child Welfare assists more than 130,000 children. “I Love Lucy” wins the Golden Mike Award.
1955 Auxiliary membership peaks at 998,103 members.
1956 The Auxiliary opens its Washington office. Youth self-help projects, part of the Pan American Study program supported by CARE, provide 91 young carpenters in Haiti with tool kits.
1958 11,015 hospital volunteers serve in 174 VA hospitals and 292 non-VA hospitals. Edith Hobart, first National President of the Auxiliary dies.
1960 The VolunTeens program is established.
1961 Auxiliary bulletin, “Color the Picture, Memorize the Rules,” alerts parents and children to the threat of child molestation.
1963 Auxiliary helps build 13 rural schools and sends tool kits to the Dominican Republic. Child Welfare assists 941,771 abused and neglected children.
1964 A fresh water system and equipment are donated to Ecuador. The Auxiliary contributes disaster relief to Alaska after the state suffers a destructive earthquake.
1965 The Auxiliary sets up 12 vocational training centers in Costa Rica.
1966 The Auxiliary’s Foreign Relations program finances a water system and community development project in the Philippines.
1968 Foreign Relations program equips a hospital maternity/pediatrics ward in Malaysia.
1969 Auxiliary Community Service volunteers donate 15,070 gallons of blood and 2,600 pairs of eyeglasses to Lions International. Leadership courses are offered at area conferences.
1970 The Auxiliary marks 50 years of service. Foreign Relations finances construction of 55 classrooms in Nicaragua. The new Past Presidents Parley presents 157 nursing scholarships. The Auxiliary Emergency Fund (AEF) is established for Auxiliary members in crisis. An Auxiliary life insurance plan is created. Eligibility is extended to granddaughters of veterans. Apollo 11 astronauts are honored at the Women’s Conference in Washington.
1971 The Auxiliary builds a bridge and conducts vocational training in Panama. Juniors, now 100,000 strong, sponsor a teacher at Freedoms Foundation, hold rummage sales where needy families shop for free, and contribute to handicapped and native Americans.
1972 Children and Youth focuses on drug abuse prevention, assistance and education for the handicapped, rehabilitation of juvenile offenders and pre-school immunization programs. One quarter million dollars in scholarships is awarded by Auxiliary Education programs. Children and Youth programs receive $942,000 to benefit 4 million children. The Cavalcade of Memories is established at National Headquarters.
1973 CATs (Community Action Teams) spend $1,000,000 and 2.25 million hours donating blood and supplying playground equipment, and wheelchairs and crutches for the handicapped. Foreign Relations brings electricity to 15 rural villages in South Korea. The poppy program reports 14.5 million poppies made, earning $1.8 million from distribution and $314,000 for 2,232 hospitalized veteran poppy makers.
1974 The poppy program reported 14,472,000 poppies were made by 2,232 hospitalized veterans who earned $314,000 and $1.8 million was donated from the distribution.
1975 The Americanism Committee sponsors 45 teachers at Freedoms Foundation in Valley Forge, PA. Senior membership dues increase to $1.50. Foreign Relations donates construction materials to build classrooms in West Java.
1976 The nation celebrates its 200th birthday. The “Spirit of 76” Committee completes a two-year project to erect a stage and Proscenium Arch on the grounds of Freedom Foundation, Valley Forge, PA. The Auxiliary supports to Legion-sponsored Freedom Bell project. Foreign Relations purchases seed and fertilizer in Belize.
1977 The Auxiliary helps to rebuild homes in earthquake-ravaged Guatemala.
1978 The Auxiliary donates money to build 40 classrooms in Peru. In 172 VA hospitals and nursing facilities, 2,850,000 service hours are given by 62,991 volunteers to help 633,000 veterans.
1979 President Jimmy Carter signs a bill extending Legion eligibility to Vietnam-era veterans.
1980 The Awareness Assembly, formerly The Women’s Forum on National Security, is established to inform members about national and international issues pertaining to defense, security, women and the aged. A French crystal plate etched with the Poppy commemorates the Auxiliary’s 60th year, and proceeds funds youth programs. Foreign Relations contributes to school reconstruction and community centers in the Dominican Republic after Hurricane David. The Past Presidents Parley awards $69,000 in nursing scholarships.
1981 Foreign Relations builds and equips kitchens and warehouses for Cambodian refugees in Thailand.
1982 In February, the newly-created American Legion Auxiliary Awareness Assembly is conducted in Washington, D.C. Foreign Relations donates to the Eluwa School for the Deaf and Blind in Namibia.
1983 The National News accepts paid advertising.
1984 The “Friends of Our Little Brothers” Children’s Home in Mexico receives $90,000 for irrigation wells.
1985 Foreign Relations raises $66,366 for Father Flavian Nucci’s Home for Special Children in El Salvador.
1986 The Auxiliary funds and dedicates the Job Nave Clerestory Window in the National Cathedral, Washington, D.C.
1987 The National President’s project, The Secret of Animal Island, a comic book illustrating safety tips for children, set Auxiliary records for response from the general public.
1988 Legion/Auxiliary members hold an open forum on the MIA/POW issue. The Auxiliary presents the Public Spirit Award to rescue personnel of Midland, Texas, for saving Jessica McClure. The Golden Press/Golden Mike Awards are retired – the Heart of America Awards are initiated.
1989 The Supreme Court rules that burning the U.S. flag is protected under the First Amendment.
1990 The National Emergency fund is established for disaster victims. The Auxiliary’s Washington, D.C. Office closes. The Auxiliary celebrates its 70th year. The Family Support Network assists families of U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf. Eligibility dates include veterans of Grenada, Lebanon and Panama. Marilyn Quayle is Woman of the Year.
1991 Dr. Robert Schuler receives the Public Spirit Award. Erma Bombeck is Woman of the Year.
1992 The Auxiliary introduces the “Young People and Relationships” video. The Auxiliary builds the “All Woman” House at Habitat International’s Jimmy Carter Work Project in Washington. Auxiliary Public Spirit Award winner is Mrs. Robin Higgins, widow of Lt. Col. William Higgins, who was killed by terrorists in Lebanon. Eligibility dates are extended to include veterans of the Persian Gulf War.
1993 The Auxiliary enhances its focus on homeless veterans. More than 1 million pounds of food are collected and donated to assist homeless veterans across the nation.
1994 Teen Court, which offers an alternative to the formal juvenile justice system, is introduced to Auxiliary members. Teen Court allows young offenders to be tried and sentenced by a jury of their peers. Auxiliary members initiated 17 Teen Courts around the country. The Citizens Flag Alliance is formed to pass a constitutional amendment to protect the American flag from intentional physical desecration.
1995 The American Legion Auxiliary celebrates its 75th anniversary.
1996 Samsung endows a scholarship for a Girls State or Boys State citizen who is a descendent of a Korean War Veteran. Elizabeth and Zachary Fisher receive the Public Spirit Award for recognition of the Fisher House Foundation. Fiftieth session of Girls Nation is celebrated.
1997 First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton receives the Public Spirit Award for her promotion of children and youth issues. Past National President Linda M. Newsome cut the ribbon for the dedication of the Woman in Military Service Memorial in Washington, D.C. The Auxiliary became involved with the President’s Summit for America’s Future and the Children’s Miracle Network. Maryland Lt. Governor, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend was named Woman of the Year.
1998 Auxiliary emphasizes a family theme through embarking on a year of service to the family. Taste of NFL was the recipient of more and $30,000 to help feed the hungry. The Auxiliary also became an official sponsor of the Children’s Miracle Network. National President Barbara Kranig appeared on the nationally televised telethon. Miss American, Kate Shindle, was a special guest at the Awareness Assembly.
1999 National President Virginia Hobbs calls for members to become more aware of the desperate need for organ and tissue donations. Public Spirit Award winner James Redford brings further awareness with his documentaries on the miracle of transplantation. Washington Attorney General Christine Gregoire is recognized as the Woman of the Year. Program highlights include fundraising for the World War II memorial.
2000 Auxiliary members celebrate the new century and millennium under the theme, “Celebrate America 2000”. Through an aggressive fund-raising campaign, members raise more than $660,000 for the World War II Memorial – nearly tripling its two-year goal of $250,000. National President Elizabeth Stewart uses her national platform to promote breast cancer awareness.
2001 Under the leadership of National President Kristine West, the American Legion Auxiliary becomes a host sponsor of the Department of National Veterans Creative Arts Festival. The National President and National Vice President Sherry McLaughlin witnesses the groundbreaking of the World War II Memorial In November 2000, and the inauguration of George W. Bush in January 2001 as the 43rd President of the United States. Woman of the Year honors went to First Lady Laura Bush at the 2001 National Convention in San Antonio, Texas.
2002 In response to the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001, Auxiliary members donated nearly $100,000 to various relief efforts. The first Unit Development and Revitalization seminar is held to educate members from each Department about helping struggling Units, creating new Units and retaining members. National President Sherry McLaughlin’s Special Project, the Spirit of Youth Fund, raised over $70,000 for scholarships. Retired Foreign Service Officer Kathryn Koob is honored as Woman of the Year.
2003 American Legion Auxiliary members respond to the wartime deployment of U.S. troops overseas in “Operation Iraqi Freedom”. Members donate hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal items shipped To U.S. forces, and assist the families of those deployed through The American Legion Family Support network. National President Elsie Bailey’s project, the “Veterans’ Pot of Gold”, directed funds to VA facilities, homeless veterans programs and other critical need areas affecting veterans. The National President presented the Auxiliary’s Public Spirit Award to Secretary of State Colin Powell; bestowed an “America’s Hope” Award on the Quecreek miners rescued in July 1992. Country artist Chely Wright received “Woman of the Year” honors.
2003/2004 National President Katherine Morris presented the Auxiliary’s Woman of the Year award to Audrey Fisher, the Fisher House Ambassador. Alma Powell received the Public Spirit Award for America’s Promise and Best Friends Foundation. On May 29, 2004, the National President led a delegation of officers and Past National Presidents to the dedication of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Set on the National Mall between the Lincoln and Washington Monuments, the memorial is a tribute to the World War II generation of men and women who served our country. The Auxiliary’s fundraising efforts for the memorial began in 1998 and resulted in the Auxiliary’s achievement of “Patron” donor status. Altogether, The American Legion Family’s donations to the World War II memorial totaled $4.4 million.
2004/2005 Country music artist Barbara Mandrell was honored as Woman of the Year and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright received the Public Spirit Award by National President Sandi Dutton. As a national Co-sponsor along with the VA and Help Hospitalized Veterans, the Auxiliary donated more than $75,000 to the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival. The National President joined American Legion National Commander Tom Cadmus and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to initiate the newly formed affiliation among the Citizens Corps, The American Legion and the Auxiliary to raise public awareness about emergency preparedness, disaster response training and volunteer service.
2005/2006 Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was honored as the Auxiliary’s Woman of the Year, and Secretary of Veterans Affairs R. James Nicholson received the Public Spirit Award from National President Carol Van Kirk. Within days after national convention, Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, devastating portions of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Not long after, Hurricane Rita brought more devastation to the same area along with parts of Texas. In the aftermath of the two deadly hurricanes, Auxiliary Members encouraged members who had suffered loss to apply for Auxiliary Emergency Fund assistance. Due to members’ generosity, the fund provided more than $600,000 directly to disaster relief and another $55,000 for emergency assistance.
2006/2007 Under the leadership of National President JoAnn Cronin, the Auxiliary raised more than $100,000 for its co-sponsorship of the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival. Gale S. Pollock, Deputy Surgeon General for Force Management, U.S. Army, was named Woman of the Year. Kaziah Hancock, artist/founder, Project Compassion Soldier Fund, Inc., received the Public Spirit Award. National President Cronin, in a yearlong emphasis on “we can do it for our veterans”, encouraged each Unit to find programs within the Veterans Affairs Administration and the Auxiliary to back as a show of support for troops as the War on Terror reached heightened escalation with a surge of troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
2007/2008 National President Jan Pulvermacher-Ryan initiated an endowment fund for the National President’s Scholarship and championed as “Educating Children of Warriors” with a goal of $1.2 million. Tara Crooks, military lifestyle writer and talk radio host was named Woman of the Year. Four Auxiliary members received the Public Spirit Award; Elizabeth Johnston, President/Founder, Mothers of Military Support; Karen Degner, Coordinator for Military Families Connect; Marian Chirichella, Founder, Angels of Mercy; and Karen Grimord, President/Founder, the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project. A collaboration between the American Legion Auxiliary and the Corporation for National and Community Service was forged.
2008/2009 The Auxiliary moved its National Headquarters from deteriorated, inadequate office space in downtown Indianapolis to adequate space a few miles north at 8945 N. Meridian Street in Indianapolis. National President Desiree Stoy honored Lori Stevens, found of Year. The Public Spirit Award was presented to Michele Cuppy, President/CFO, Sew Much Comfort, and to Morrill Worcester, Owner, Worcester Wreath Co., for “Wreaths Across America” which lays Christmas wreaths on every gravesite in national veterans cemeteries. The Auxiliary received a national AmeriCorps grant and became the only veteran service organization to become a Volunteers In Service To America national sponsoring organization. Patriot PAWS, as the Auxiliary’s Woman of the
2009/2010 The Auxiliary celebrated its 90th anniversary year of Service Not Self for veterans, God and country, in celebration of the ALA’s founding on November 10, 2009. The American Legion Auxiliary Call to Service Corps VISTA Project launched. Seventeen federal AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service to America) members were assigned to ALA National Headquarters and nine states for their one year of service, an award of a half million dollars in human resources to help the ALA build its volunteer capacity to help alleviate poverty among veterans, military service members and their families. National President Rita Navarrete presented the Public Spirit Award to Ride 2 Recovery, accepted by founder John Wordin. The Honorable L. Tammy Duckworth, Assistant Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs and Iraqi War heroine, was named the Auxiliary’s Woman of the Year. The national magazine is redesigned and renamed Auxiliary.