Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at places and events of interest in Bulloch County history.
Continental Army officers and their French allies formed the first veteran’s organization in the United States in 1783, which they named “The Society of the Cincinnati” after the Roman hero Cincinnatus.
“American Expeditionary Force (AEF) officers met in Paris, France to discuss forming an official national veterans group. Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt Jr. suggested they band together under the name of the “American Legion.”
Roosevelt suggested the Legion to do three things: ensure the proper treatment of orphans, widows, and disabled veterans; secondly, push for better military training; and finally encourage the promotion of patriotism.
American Legion leaders convinced Gen. Black Jack Pershing to speak to both houses of Congress, whom he convinced to officially charter the America Legion in 1919.
The new “American Legion” established its national headquarters in Indianapolis. Every state’s legion members are governed by a “cepartment,” which oversees the Legion posts, or individual town chapters.
Statesboro’s own Dexter Allen Post was the 90th American Legion Post chartered. It was named after the son of L.A. Allen, who died in France. To raise funds in 1934, the Dexter Allen Post held a dance at the National Guard Armory.
Tickets for the dinner went for 50 cents, and tickets for the Hotel Richmond Orchestra from Augusta dance and show cost 25 cents. To ensure a large crowd, they gave away a new “Studebaker Dictator” (retail cost: $450).
On Nov. 4, 1937, the whole county gathered at the airport for a huge “Armistice Day Celebration” sponsored by the American Legion. The Georgia Teachers College band played, and Georgia Gov. Eurith Dickinson (Ed) Rivers gave the key-note speech.
In 1938, the members of the Dexter Allen Post decided to purchase land for a new Legion home. To raise money, they asked for permission to have movies shown on Sundays at the local movie theater.
The owner of the theater, H.H. Macon, promised to give the Legion the profits from these shows. In response, local ministers convinced the City Council to ban any business opening on the Sabbath for the purpose of entertainment.
The Legion eventually purchased the old “Supreme Café” property on Highway 301 outside of Statesboro. Their new quarters had a large meeting room, a large kitchen, and several smaller rooms.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail Roger at firstname.lastname@example.org.