Celebrating its 101st anniversary this year, the American Legion Macon Post 108 has been an important resource for many generations of servicemen and servicewomen. But how exactly did the American Legion begin?
With World War I coming to an end in November 1918, some American officers who had been participants in the war began to think about the two million men who had been serving in the European theater. Hundreds of thousands of military members found themselves detained in France and longing for home, morale was declining. This situation was a particular matter of concern to Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.
One day in January 1919, he had a discussion at the general headquarters with National Guard Officer George A. White and a former newspaper editor from Portland, Ore. After a long discussion, he suggested the establishment of a new servicemen’s organization. The American Legion was chartered by Congress in September 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 quickly grew to over 1 million and local posts sprang up across the country.
Today, membership stands at nearly two million in more than 13,000 posts worldwide. The posts are organized into 55 departments: one for each of the 50 states, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, France, Mexico, and the Philippines. This is only a snapshot of the beginning of the American Legion. 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. The American Legion is self-governing and no military rank is recognized; everyone is equal in vote and individuality.
Macon County Welcomes The Legion
When each state was granted a charter by the National American Legion, they would establish its headquarters (referred to as Department of said state) and then begin granting charters throughout the state for local communities to have an American Legion Post. When a county, a community, town, or city was granted its Post charter, the charter was given a number based on the order in which a Post was established. Macon Post #108 in Franklin received its charter on July 11, 1922 and became the 108th Post chartered in North Carolina.
In order for Macon Post #108 to be chartered, it had to meet certain criteria according to the national and department constitutions. A few of those requirements were to meet the minimum number of members, elect officers, and draw up a Post Constitution. In the early days of Post 108, meetings would be held in various locations. In 1946, Alfred “Burt” and Martha “Addie” Slagle established The Slagle Memorial Building in memory of their son, Charles W. Slagle, a World War II veteran. Macon Post 108 was allowed use of the memorial building to conduct their monthly meetings.
Over the years the Slagle family would continue to help all veterans in the community in a multitude of ways. Perhaps one of the greatest was by providing the land for Macon Post 108 to construct a permanent Legion Post building at 614 West Main St. in 1986.
Macon Post 108 has gone through several changes over the years. On May 6, 1990, the dedication of a second and much larger building was made possible through the generous donations and hard work of the community and the Legionaries. The new building would provide much needed space for the increased membership and Post activities.
Beginning in the summer of 2022, Macon Post 108 initiated a remodeling project; once again, the community pitched in to help the veterans. Paint, paint supplies, and over 4,800-square-feet of new ceiling tile was provided. The ceiling tile color did not work for the wall color, so our local [Lyndon B. Johnson] Job Corps (students) volunteered to paint all of the tile. Several Macon Post 108 members donated money and worked countless hours to give the 30-year-old building a face lift. All of the fresh water lines and valves were replaced, new LED lightning was installed, electrical repairs were made, and The American Legion Auxiliary Unit 108 provided new tables and bar stools.
Macon Post 108 has enjoyed a long, interesting and rich history within the town of Franklin and will continue growing its legacy for the next generation – the greatest of which are the veterans and their service.