History of the Sons of the American Legion

The Sons of The American Legion was created in 1932 as an organization within The American Legion The S.A.L. is made up of boys and men of all ages whose parents or grandparents served in the United States military and became eligible for membership in The American Legion. Together, members of The American Legion, The American Legion Auxiliary and the Sons of The American Legion make up what is known as The Legion Family. All three organizations place high importance on preserving our American traditions and values, improving the quality of life for our nation's children, caring for veterans and their families, and perhaps most importantly, teaching the fundamentals of good citizenship.

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Sons have always assisted Legionnaires with Legion Family programs. Our Family boasts a combined total membership of nearly 4.2 million members. This year, Sons attained an all time high national membership of over 358,000. The largest Detachment, Pennsylvania, has over 59,000 members. Trophies and awards are given to Detachments and Squadrons for the largest membership and the largest increase in membership. Just as each Legion post determines the extent of its service to the community, state and nation, each S.A.L. squadron is permitted flexibility in planning programs and activities to meet its own needs. The S.A.L. has study programs recommended for younger members. One such program, called "The Ten Ideals," teaches the elements of patriotism, health, knowledge, training, honor, faith, helpfulness, courtesy, reverence and comradeship. If a member completes the Ten Ideals program, he is eligible to continue with another program called the "Five-Point Program of Service." This program covers patriotism, citizenship, discipline, leadership and legionism.

Sons focus on much more than just membership. At all levels, Sons support The American Legion in promoting a wide variety of programs. Sons assist their posts in other activities such as Veterans programs, Veterans Administration home and hospital volunteerism, Children Youth projects and fundraising. Since 1988, The Sons have raised more than $6.9 million for The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation. Members have volunteered over 1.3 million hours to date in Veterans Hospitals throughout the country and raised over $2,500,000 that has gone directly to VA hospitals and VA homes for a variety of items including TVs, radios, medical equipment and clothing for the patients.

There are many men who are members of both The American Legion and the Sons of The American Legion. Often, these individuals started out as young members of the Sons. Then, when they were old enough to serve the military, they also became eligible to join The Legion. Such individuals are known within our organization as dual members. The Sons of The American Legion is one of many organizations that sponsors and supports the Citizens Flag Alliance, a coalition formed to secure flag protection legislation through an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. S.A.L. volunteers work to establish local networks by having petitions available and handing out informational material. They alert their communities to the importance of respect for the flag and they encourage flag education programs in schools and other local organizations.


S.A.L Membership Requirements

To be eligible to join the SAL, you must be a male descendant (includes stepsons and adopted sons) of a member of The American Legion or a veteran who died in service during World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, or the Persian Gulf War ( see specific time periods of service below ). You would also be eligible to join the Sons of The American Legion if you are the male descendant of a veteran who died subsequent to his or her honorable discharge from service during the times listed below.

If you need help obtaining the records, visit The National Personnel Records Center at

National Archives Veterans Service Records

Sons of the American Legion Application




Download the application and return the completed form to Ted Butler.
If you have any questions please email him at Ted Butler or call 978-762-0611 and leave a message.
Be sure to include your phone number so he can return your call.

Active Duty Service Eligibility Dates for Membership in The American Legion
(note: Use these dates to determine if your parents or grandparents are/were eligible for membership in The American Legion).


World War I April 6, 1917 - November 11, 1918
World War II December 7, 1941 - December 31, 1946
Korean War June 25, 1950 - January 31, 1955
Vietnam Era February 28, 1961 - May 7, 1975
Lebanon/Grenada August 24, 1982 - July 31, 1984
Panama December 20, 1989 - January 31, 1990
Persian Gulf August 2, 1990 - (this eligibility period remains open)
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