Strengthening the nation one person at a time, the American Legion was formed 100 years ago to help veterans, their families and to serve the community.
Each a Star
Nationally, the Legion’s efforts resulted in the creation of the US Veteran’s Bureau, the forerunner of the Veteran’s Administration and in 1944, the GI Bill of Rights was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. This legislative achievement ushered in monumental changes for veterans. Providing more opportunities for higher education and employment, it has had a long-lasting effect on the U.S. society and economy.
The Legion’s National Emergency Fund, established in 1969, helps disaster victims across the country and their Halloween Safety Program, started in 1972, is the only national program of its kind. Throughout their history, the Legion has worked to protect the U.S. flag from physical desecration, as well.
Saratoga County has 12 American Legion posts. Adirondack Post 70, currently located at 34 West Avenue in Saratoga Springs, is one of the original charter posts established at the very outset of the American Legion in 1919. Bill Schmeelcke, the Legion’s current 2nd Vice Commander, has collected a history of the local post, including research on its first Commander, Jesse Cavanaugh.
Jesse M. Cavanaugh was the first commander of Saratoga Springs' Adirondack Post 70 after the close of World War One. Cavanaugh, a Saratoga Springs native, joined Company “L”, 2nd Infantry, of the NY State National Guard as a Private on February 25, 1916, prior to the United States entering the War in the spring of 1917. He advanced to Corporal, then to Sergeant before receiving a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant and being transferred to the 353rd Infantry Division in 1918. He served in France to the end of the war and returned to Saratoga Springs in 1919.
Unlike in other veteran’s organizations, the American Legion didn’t maintain the hierarchy of military service (filling the leadership positions with senior officers). They instead encouraged input from enlisted personnel and despite being the lowest ranking commissioned officer, Cavanaugh was Adirondack Post 70’s first Commander. Later on, Cavanaugh helped in the construction of the current Saratoga Springs Public Library, and was the first man ordained as a permanent deacon in the Diocese of Albany.
The post met at different locations through the years, including the current site of the City Center before moving into their current facility. Their activities include fundraisers, community events and they will be marching in the Flag Day parade.