American Legion Building
One of two American Legion buildings on the American Legion Plaza
American Legion National Headquarters
American Legion National Headquarters

The American Legion was founded in 1919 in France. A group of twenty soldiers, including Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt Jr., the oldest son of President Theodore Roosevelt, gathered at the behest of General John J Pershing with the intent of forming an organization to assist United States servicemen.[1] From their efforts the American Legion emerged. At the first convention of the Legion, delegates decided to locate its national offices in Indianapolis. The first offices were housed in the Indiana War Memorial. The finalized plans for the American Legion buildings on the Plaza were approved in September of 1923.[2] Construction of the current buildings began in 1949. The limestone neoclassical structures by Frank B Walker and Harry E. Weeks sit opposite each other at the north end of the American Legion Mall. The efforts of the American Legion led to the current Veterans Administration however the Legion remains active in its direct support of veterans as well as lobbying for continuing benefits for those who served.[3] In 1954, the Legion formed the American Legion Child Welfare Foundation to supply grants to youth organizations.[4] In August of 2017, Denise H. Rohan made Legion history is the first woman elected to the post of National Commander.[5] The Legion continues to take an active role with youth in the community through scholarships and grants and on-site giving tours to school groups and other visitors. [6]

[1] George Seay Wheat, The Story of the American Legion, (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1919), 2-8.

[2] Indianapolis Star, “News Clippings,” September 14, 1923, Accessed at the Indiana World War Memorial Museum archive, Ledger 1, page 46.

[3] “History,” – The American Legion, Retrieved from 2

[4] “History,” – The American Legion, 3

[5] “History,” – The American Legion, 9.

[6] “Youth Programs,The American Legion, Retrieved from