American Legion Auxiliary Unit 296 recognized on 100th Anniversary

A group of officers from American Legion Auxiliary Paul E Kelly Unit in line displaying proclamation presented to them by Commissioner JoAnn BirrellLeft to Right: Jennifer Walker-Auxiliary Unit 296 Chaplain, Wanda Scott-Auxiliary Unit 296 member, JoAnn Birrell-Commissioner, Carla Thomas-Auxiliary Unit 296 President, Ila Linley-Auxiliary Unit 296 member, Diana Griffian-Auxiliary Unit 296 Sgt-At-Arms,Ollye Davis-Auxiliary Unit 296 Historian, Lia Speight-Auxiliay Unit 296 Jr. Activities Chair, and Walter Robinson Legionnaire & Former Judge Advocate Post 296. (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

At last Tuesday’s meeting of the Cobb County Board of Commissioners the American Legion Auxiliary Paul E. Kelly Jr. Unit 296 was honored with a proclamation on the 100th anniversary of the Auxiliary.

Commissioner JoAnn Birrell presented the proclamation, and introduced a delegation from the unit.

Birrell said, “We want to recognize these ladies for their 100th anniversary and all their hard work and commitment to our veterans.”

“You all know the saying, ‘Behind every great man there’s a greater woman’,” she said. “Well these are the Lady’s Auxiliary of Post 296 on Atlanta Road, in my district.”


“And first, before I read the proclamation, I just want to say thank you for all your hard work,” said Birrell.

“All the celebrations and ceremonies that we’ve had here at the Civic Center, for last year our Vietnam veterans, this year our Korean War veterans, these ladies have dedicated their time and commitment to serve our veterans, and we can’t thank you enough,” said Birrell.

Carla Thomas, the president of Unit 296 said in accepting the proclamation, “It’s a privilege to be part of an organization that has always stood up for veterans for 100 years.”

“We are the largest women’s service patriotic organization in the world,” she said. “That’s a privilege.”

She said it was an honor to be part of an organization with such a long history in Marietta.

“So it’s been a privilege to be here in the Marietta community working for our veterans and the community,” said Thomas.

The Proclamation

WHEREAS: America’s largest Veterans service organization, The American Legion, is 100 years old. The American Legion was founded after the end of World War I. During March 15-17, 1919 in Paris, France, the first caucus under the name American Expeditionary Force was held. Two months later, a caucus was held in St. Louis, Mo., where the name The American Legion was officially adopted; and

WHEREAS: After its formation, several existing women’s organizations wanted to become the official affiliate of the Legion. A committee decided to create a new organization made up of the women most closely associated with the men of the Legion. During The American Legion’s first convention Nov. 10, 1919, members & officials “birthed” the American Legion Auxiliary. In less than one year, 1,342 local units in 45 states of the Women’s Auxiliary to the American Legion had been organized; and

WHEREAS: The American Legion Auxiliary Avery-Cuthbert Unit 537 of Marietta was known as a “widow” unit. It was granted special permission to operate without an active Legion Post, if membership quotas and all obligations were met. Meetings were rotated at the homes of different members every 4th Sunday; and

WHEREAS: A group of Marietta veterans started meeting and decided to reapply for their charter in 1983. Several names of veterans that died on foreign soil were submitted as names for the Post, the honor was given to Post 296 by the family of Paul E. Kelly, Jr. Shortly after American Legion Paul E. Kelly Jr. Post 296 gained its charter, the widow unit was asked to become a part of the Ladies Auxiliary whose permanent charter was granted March 7, 1985; and

WHEREAS: The start of the Auxiliary Unit brought new life and several programs such as VA & local hospital visits to veterans, the Junior Auxiliary, the Poppy program, free Community Appreciation Cook Outs, Easter Egg hunts, Youth Halloween program, Thanksgiving Basket Give-a-ways, Back to School drives, Toys for Tots, and Sickle Cell Anemia HealthFair & Walk-a-thon; and

WHEREAS: The mission of the American Legion Auxiliary is to support the American Legion and honor the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of veterans, military, and their families, both at home and abroad. For God and country, they advocate for veterans, educate our citizens, mentor youth, and promote patriotism, good citizenship, peace and security; now

THEREFORE: We, the Cobb County Board of Commissioners, do hereby recognize the 100th anniversary of The American Legion Auxiliary and commend our local Paul E. Kelly Jr. Unit 296 for their dedicated service on behalf of our veterans.

This, the 12th day of November, 2019.

About the American Legion Auxiliary

The website for the American Legion Auxiliary describes the founding and purpose of the Auxiliary as follows:

The American Legion was founded after the end of World War I in Paris, France. In September of that year, the United States Congress chartered The American Legion.

Several women’s organizations wanted to become the official affiliate of the Legion.

Instead of associating with an existing organization, the Legion decided to create a new organization with the women most closely associated with the men of the Legion.

The American Legion Auxiliary was founded at The American Legion’s second convention on Nov. 10, 1919. Since their establishments a century ago, the goals of both organizations have been to help veterans and their families.

Today, The American Legion has more than 2 million members. The ALA boasts more than 600,000 members who spend millions of volunteer hours serving our mission every year.

The American Legion Auxiliary has stood alongside The American Legion as advocates for veterans’ rights, including passage of the GI Bill, enhancing U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs benefits, and ending homelessness among veterans.

Watch the video of the proclamation