In the mid-1940s, African-American soldiers from Manassas, Va., started to return home from World War II. They sought organizational affiliation with veterans who had shared the common experience of war and service to nation in uniform.
As a result of Jim Crow and the laws of segregation in the South, these Virginian soldiers were not permitted to join veteran organizations with whites - including The American Legion. In 1945, 16 African-American veterans residing in Manassas petitioned National Headquarters in Indianapolis for a charter to conduct official meetings.
On April 26, 1945, National Headquarters issued a temporary charter to these 16 individuals under the title “Colored Post 114 of Manassas, VA.” Just over a year later, on June 7, 1946, the Department of Virginia issued a permanent charter, removing the words “Colored Post” and giving the post its new designation as Post 114.
Today, none of the 16 original members are alive. Although he was not an original charter member, but because of the contributions he made to the post, it was named in honor of Paul W. Mitchell Jr. in 2002.
Throughout the many years of its existence, the post has always remained vibrant in serving military veterans and the Manassas community. The membership continues to carry the touch raised by its charter members and Mitchell by giving veterans an arena to serve and reflect on their time-honored service to their country.
Its membership today comprises men and women who took part in wars from World War II to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The post is represented by the Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the Coast Guard and the Air Force.
In 2002, the post initiated a tradition of hosting an annual charter dinner to honor its 16 original members. This celebration is held yearly to show the continuing appreciation and respect for those early pioneers who created the organization for all American veterans, American Legion Post 114.
Within the last decade the post has embarked on an aggressive effort to revive itself through attracting young veterans and to become more involved within the community. One of the organization’s major programs was the adoption of a Junior ROTC program at one of the local high schools. There are plans to become actively involved with various ongoing American Legion programs, such as sponsoring young people to Legion events and conducting an oratorical contest.
As the post commemorates its 75th year, it hopes to announce within the next six months major redevelopment of its current meeting facility, which needs major restoration. This venture will comprise constructing on its 1-acre parcel six one- and two-bedroom duplexes and a new headquarters building that will also house office/meeting space for nonprofit organizations and a veterans workforce center.
Watch a video featuring the post’s history here.