Our local post shares a long tradition with the national organization.
History of The American Legion – National Organization
The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization. Focusing on service to veterans, servicemembers and communities, the Legion evolved from a group of war-weary veterans of World War I into one of the most influential nonprofit groups in the United States. Membership swiftly grew to more than 1 million, and local posts sprang up across the country.
Today, membership stands at more than 2.4 million in 14,000 posts worldwide. The posts are organized into 55 departments: one each for the 50 states, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, France, Mexico and the Philippines.
Over the years, the Legion has influenced considerable social change in America, won hundreds of benefits for veterans and produced many important programs for children and youth.
History of The American Legion – Post 419, East Hampton, NY
Our local chapter was started more than 50 years ago, and now serves hundreds of veterans, and hosts many community events each year.
In the 1960’s the Post was a one room building where the meetings were held and members gathered for comradery. As the membership grew with the addition of an American Legion Auxiliary Unit and a Son’s of the American Legion Squad, the need for more space became apparent. In the 70’s a meeting room with an attached kitchen and some storage was built so that more members could attend the meetings and on off meeting days the “hall” could be rented out to help support the post.
After 20 plus years we needed another addition; the legion membership had swollen to more than 300, the Auxiliary to over 175 members and the Son’s to more than 70 members.
All three groups came together and hatched a plan to expand the building with the help of a local architect, and by 1992 construction began. This project required 90% of the existing building to be renovated. Improvements included a new full-height basement with all upgraded heating and air conditioning, a new 400 amp. electric service, siding, roofing, windows and doors, and more. The original meeting room was untouched and was used for meetings during the renovation.
By the fall of 1994 the addition was mostly done. By February 1995 the members’ lounge was finished and in 1997 the original room was renovated, complete with updated bathrooms. After finishing this last part of the renovation it effectively doubled the space and made the total space available to members over 7,000 sq. ft.
The addition of a members only lounge made it possible for members to come to the Post during rental functions and have minimal impact on the guests.
The newly renovated hall (approx. 3,000 sq. ft.) has a professional kitchen that is the envy of many local restaurants. The newly finished structure also has a lounge that can be used when renting the hall. All public areas and the members-only lounge are ADA handicap accessible. It was and still is a great sense of pride with all those who took part that this addition was largely done through many thousands of volunteer hours from all three organizations.
From September 19, 2000 through September 27, 2000 The Moving Wall Vietnam Veterans Memorial was on display and again all three groups came together and helped make it one most profound events we have ever held here.
Every other year the legion organizes the Memorial Day Parade which includes a small American Flag set on the graves of fallen Veterans in all the towns’ cemeteries by The Son’s and other veterans’ and civic organizations. On each Sunday before the Memorial Day year, the combined American Legion Color Guard & Rifle Squad, together with members from the local VFW, fire a salute over the graves of the fallen at each cemetery. On the morning of Memorial Day (rain or shine!) this same group goes to Main Beach to fire a salute and lay a wreath in the water to honor those who fell serving others.
During the year the Legion holds monthly meeting on how best to serve our local veterans and the surrounding community. As part of our work, we award book scholarships to local high school students. The hall also serves host East Hampton Town board meetings when an overflow is expected. The Legion Hall can also be called upon to serve as an emergency gathering place during storms and outages, as we have our own source of electricity thru a natural gas powered generator.
The Auxiliary holds bake sales and raffles to help fund its many projects, including sending those everyday items that our military men & women need over the holidays to remind the of home. The Auxiliary also awards book scholarships to local high school students.
The Son’s raise funds for VA&R (The American Legion’s Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation) projects and Child Welfare & Development. The Son’s also award book scholarships to local high school students and make donations to Toys for Tots, etc.