Column: What will be the Legion's fate?WORTHINGTON — At the end of World War I, a group of veterans established an organization and gave it a name, the American Legion. It was felt that those who had served in a war such as World War I needed to band together, if for nothing else than to remember their association in that great war.
By: Al Swanson, Daily Globe Historical Columnist, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — At the end of World War I, a group of veterans established an organization and gave it a name, the American Legion. It was felt that those who had served in a war such as World War I needed to band together, if for nothing else than to remember their association in that great war.
World War I didn’t end all wars as it was hoped, and World War II was fought for the Four Freedoms that had been so eloquently stated by our American President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The veterans of this war joined with veterans of World War I in their national organization in the world. Their major purpose was to preserve the memories of their association in the two great wars; to help provide benefits for those who had served their country in time of need.
The American Legion organized nationally and in every state in our union. On the local level, Legion posts were established in any community where there was a number of veterans who supported the goals and objectives of the American Legion. In Nobles County after World War I, posts were established in Adrian, Bigelow, Brewster, Dundee, Ellsworth, Lismore, Round Lake, Rushmore and Worthington. All of these are in existence today except Rushmore, which closed in the 1990s, and Worthington, which closed Jan. 30.
In World War I, the cause was “this was the war to end all wars.” Yet, 20 years later, World War II was fought “to stop aggression and establish Democracy.” In the next decade, the cause was “to stop Communist aggression” in Korea. Stopping Communism was still the reason in the struggle in Vietnam, and now it is terrorism.
These wars were fought for what were said to be good and noble causes — and, as always, they were fought by people. Listen to the words of one of the greatest speeches in the history of this country given by Abraham Lincoln:
“The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it cannot forget what they did here.”
They, of course, are the brave men living and dead. November 11 was set aside as a day to remember. At first it was Armistice Day — to signal the end of World War I. However, wars did not cease, and Nov. 11 became Veterans Day, a day set aside to pay tribute to and honor those who gave a full measure of devotion to their country. Wreaths and flowers have been placed at cemeteries where they rest in peace. Speeches are given and parades keep those memories in the minds and hearts of people. But those memories are always there for those who have lost a loved one, a relative or friend.
All of these wars that involved our nation had to have an effect. Every war created veterans who have memories of incidents of wars. Many veterans fought to bring peace, but it didn’t last. Many veterans didn’t want to remember, especially Vietnam. The treatment of many veterans brought doubts. “Why did we fight this war?” Many wanted to forget the memories. Wars weren’t always popular. Many didn’t join veterans’ organizations; they just wanted to be civilians. Will there ever be an end of wars? Is it even in sight of this 21st century?
Al Swanson is president emeritus of the Nobles County Historical Society.