On May 2, 1919, the West Virginia department of the American Legion first convened at a meeting in Charleston. At the time, the Legion was only about six weeks old, having been founded in Paris by members of the American Expeditionary Force after World War I.
A state women’s Auxiliary of the American Legion was organized at Grafton in 1922 for wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, granddaughters, great-granddaughters, grandmothers, and steprelatives of Legion members or deceased veterans. The women’s Auxiliary’s work is dedicated to the welfare of veterans in hospitals, veteran homes, or for other veterans and veterans’ families with special needs. Women veterans may join both the Legion and the Auxiliary.
During the 20th century, the American Legion was opened up to veterans of any major American conflict from World War I on. By the end of the century, the American Legion had 114 posts in West Virginia, with more than 27,000 members. Both the Legion and Auxiliary sponsor programs for youth, including Boys’ State, Rhododendron Girls State, King-for-a-Day, scholarship programs, and American flag programs. They also promote legislation that encourages respect for the flag.