When the Legion was founded in 1919, membership was limited to World War I veterans. Another world war twenty-two years later again raised the question of membership. And it was far from inevitable that World War II GIs would join the Legion.

Many of the original Legionaries were wary of admitting GIs. The differences in age and outlook between the two groups threatened to divide the Legion. In Owatonna, most of Post 77 members believed that World War II veterans “would want an organization of their own.”

But attitudes eventually changed. At their 1942 national convention in September, the Legion decided to admit GIs. Since the US Congress had chartered the Legion, legislation was needed to make the change official. Congress amended the Legion’s charter a month later.

Allowing GIs to join proved to be a boon for membership. In August 1942, there were 31,000 Minnesota Legionnaires. By July 1947 there were 90,000, an increase of 190 percent in five years.

View more history for Post 77 in Owatonna, Minnesota