Minneapolis: Back to Where it All Began

National Convention Aug. 24-30

The Beginning

 A year after the end of World War I, the newly formed American Legion held its first National Convention in 1919 in Minneapolis, where 684 delegates attended the three-day event. They adopted the Legion constitution and preamble, passed a resolution to support the Boy Scouts of America, and voted to locate the Legion’s national headquarters in Indianapolis.

This year, The American Legion will celebrate its 100th National Convention in Minneapolis, a fitting tribute to the very first convention held there.

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In addition to serving as the location for the first Legion convention, the city is significant for another first: It’s where the American Legion Auxiliary was established as an organization to support The American Legion. Minneapolis convention visitors can stop by Peavey Plaza, where two plaques mark the site of the Legion’s first National Convention and the founding of the ALA.

Back in 1919, less than a year old, 1,342 American Legion Auxiliary units were organized in more than 45 states. Minnesota became the first department in the Auxiliary.

Since our humble beginnings in 1919, the ALA has grown into the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization with a nearly century-old history.

Continuing the Tradition

About 9,000 members of The American Legion Family attend National Convention each year. The event includes the national conventions of The American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary, and Sons of The American Legion, as well as The American Legion Riders Legacy Run.

During the week of National Convention, The American Legion Family gathers to help further our cause of patriotism and support for our servicemembers both past and present.

This year’s 98th American Legion Auxiliary National Convention is “ALA Proud” — proud of who we are, what we do, and where we’re going.

A few non-business events of the week include a community service project and a patriotic parade and memorial service on Sunday. In the early years of National Convention, the parades were very well attended by local citizens, had high turnout from Legion Family members, and lasted for hours. In fact, the 1940 National Convention parade in Boston took 12 hours and 15 minutes to complete!


In addition to these events, those going to the 2018 National Convention are invited to attend Minnesota sporting events by purchasing discounted tickets. The first is for the Minnesota Vikings pre-season football game at 7 p.m. Aug. 24, and the second event is for American Legion Family Night with the Minnesota Twins baseball team at 6:10 p.m. Aug. 25.

Down to Business

Since 1919, members across all levels of the ALA have gathered annually for a series of meetings and workshops to better carry out the organization’s mission of serving veterans, the military, and their families.

The main purpose of ALA National Convention is to elect officers who will serve one-year terms for the ensuing administraive year, amend the national governing documents if needed, receive reports from national officers and committees, and handle any other business that may be brought up.

The National Executive Committee, the governing body of the ALA with fiduciary, policy, and strategic responsibility for the organization, meets twice during the week of convention. The final meeting of the current administrative year’s NEC is always held on the Saturday morning before convention, while the post-convention meeting of the new NEC term is held immediately following the installation of national officers.

National Convention opening session begins Monday with a variety of hands-on workshops to help you, your unit, and your department succeed for the upcoming year.

Several major ALA awards are also presented at National Convention to honor outstanding accomplishments in service to veterans, the military, and their families, both within the ALA and out in the community. A host of awards are presented on stage, including Woman of the Year, National President’s Award for Excellence, Unit Members of the Year, and Salute to Servicewomen. To learn more about national ALA awards, visit www.ALAforVeterans.org/awards.

One way to help ensure the ALA mission endures is through the American Legion Auxiliary Foundation’s #GivingTuesday campaign. During convention, a booth is set up to raise funds for veterans and military servicemembers. A day dedicated to giving back, #GivingTuesday follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

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Concluding the week of activities, officers for the upcoming administrative year are elected by National Convention delegates. These one-year, term-limited positions include the president, vice president, chaplain, and historian. The national secretary and national treasurer are not term-limited and are confirmed each year by the board of directors/NEC. Upon installation in their new roles, these officers will help lead the ALA into the 100th year of the organization.

For more details on this year’s National Convention, visit www.ALAforVeterans.org/convention. To stay connected through social media for the event, use the hashtag #AuxCon18.



Watch the 98th ALA National Convention through our live stream at www.ALAforVeterans.org/convention, where you’ll also find an updated meeting agenda. Video can be viewed on mobile devices, tablets, or your desktop computer. Unable to catch the session each day? Archived video also will be available for replay viewing.


Unique Minneapolis Attractions to Visit

Find yourself having a little extra time in between business meetings? Here’s a list of local attractions:

Blast from the Past: The Speakeasy Scene

Volstead’s Emporium, 711 Lake St. W. Once in front of the street address, walk down a back alley and look for a steel door with a red light. Knock and a bouncer opens a peep hole, shuts it, and then lets you in. But that’s as shady as it gets.

Marvel Bar, 50 N. 2nd Ave.  Unmarked speakeasy behind a purple door with avant-garde cocktails, whiskeys and hip, eclectic decor.

Prohibition Bar, 821 S. Marquette Ave. Speakeasy-inspired cocktail bar offering views of the skyline from the 27th floor of the W Hotel.

Al’s Place, 2500 University Ave. NE. A 1920s-inspired supper club and speakeasy.                                                                         

Mall of America, 8100 24th Avenue South, Bloomington

The mall has more than 500 stores, several attractions, and the SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium.

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, 726 Vineland Place

The garden displays sculptures of the Walker Art Center in a 19-acre urban green space.

 Prince Tour 

First Avenue: 701 First Ave. N.

This was one of Prince’s main stages to try out his new eccentric sounds. In 1983, the album version of the song Purple Rain was recorded here live.

Paisley Park: 7847 Audubon Road, Chanhassen

Prince’s recording studio/residence/performance venue has daily public tours and includes access to Prince’s recording and mixing studios, rehearsal rooms, sound stage, and private music club, plus his iconic outfits, awards, instruments, and other memorabilia.

Glam Slam: 110 N. Fifth St.

In 1990, the Glam Slam nightclub premiered in Prince’s movie, Graffiti Bridge.

Sound 80: 222 S. Ninth St.

Prince recorded multiple tracks at Sound 80 in the late 1970s.

House from Purple Rain: 3420 Snelling Ave. S.

You’ll find yourself at the house where Prince’s character from Purple Rain lived.

Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant

Prince frequented the intimate club to support local musicians, showing up unexpectedly.

Lake Minnetonka

Fans of Purple Rain will remember the scene where Apollonia is asked to “purify herself in Lake Minnetonka.” Though the scene was actually filmed along the Minnesota River south of the Twin Cities near Henderson, the real Lake Minnetonka is about 30 minutes west of Minneapolis.

The Electric Fetus

Prince often frequented the popular Minneapolis record store.

Capri Theater

The Capri was the site of Prince’s first concerts as a solo artist in January 1979.

Public murals

Artist Rock “Cyfi” Martinez painted a mural of Prince a few days after his passing. It’s located at 26th and Hennepin in the Uptown neighborhood, behind the Sencha Tea building. There is also a purple Prince mural on the wall of the Chanhassen Cinema.

Memorable costumes

Visit Mall of America’s Hard Rock Cafe to see a costume he wore on his 1987 tour.

Minneapolis is home to several Prince-related sites throughout the late Grammy-winning singer’s hometown. Learn more about the famous attractions by visiting www.exploreminnesota.com


This article was originally published in the August Auxiliary magazine. 

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