The church of The American Legion's first national commander, Franklin D’Olier, will toll Bells of Peace on Nov. 11 as part of the commemorations related to the World War One Centennial.
St. Mary's Episcopal in Burlington, N.J., will begin ringing its bells at 11 a.m. local time when the fighting stopped a century ago. D'Olier, who died in 1953, is buried in the St. Mary's church yard in his hometown of Burlington.
The World War One Centennial Commission is calling on communities nationwide to participate in its Bells of Peace program so that Nov. 11 commemorates the 100-year armistice. Hundreds of American Legion posts, churches and other civic organizations plan to participate.
D'Olier entered the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps in April 1917 as a captain. In August, he received orders to France as part of the American's first salvage service. In July 1918, he was sent to Lyon to open a second salvage depot. He oversaw the salvage operations of 1.5 million men and was promoted to major, then to lieutenant colonel. In April 1919, he was discharged.
He was among 20 men who initiated The American Legion in France at the request of Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt Jr. First, D'Olier attended the original caucus in Paris on March 15, 1919. After his discharge, he began to devote his time to launching the Legion.
D'Olier organized The American Legion's first national convention, which took place in Minneapolis in 1919, when he became the organization's first national commander. His acceptance speech was short and straightforward: "My word is simply this. We came here to work. Let us keep working and not listen to speeches. I thank you."
And work he did. He worked without payment of any kind as he worked for his vision to obtain disability benefits and job training for wounded veterans. He also worked for an adjusted compensation to provide pay on par with what they would have made had they not served in the war. His stance on adjusted wage whether from the taxpayer or employer made him many enemies. D'Olier refused reelection being he thought the position should be a single one-year term. He returned to his yarn business and later became president of Prudential Insurance.