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Culver Legion

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Legion History

It all began in 1911. It was an idea whose time had come. General L.R. Gignilliat, whose association with Culver would eventually span 42 years, firmly believed in the advantages of a formal organization of an alumni body. Early in his career, as head of the Academy, Gen. Gignilliat took steps to set up a permanent alumni body with a constitution, by-laws, and elected officers.

At the 1911 Commencement, 75 former cadets were invited to participate in the exercises. At a business meeting held afterward, this group of alumni formed an organization officially known as The Culver Alumni Association.

By 1914, there were more than 100 active members in the association and enrollment grew rapidly. In 1916, a new constitution and set of by-laws were adopted and the name of the organization changed to The Culver Legion.

By 1922, the organization had become so significant, in the opinion of the trustees, that it was decided that The Legion should take an active part in school affairs. An Alumni Office was set up, a full-time secretary of The Culver Legion was elected, and the executive officer of The Legion was made a member of the administrative staff of the Academy.

Soon, a life membership was established and presented in such a favorable manner that in seven years, more life memberships at $50 each were taken than annual memberships. Interest from the income from Legion membership was (and still is) used for the Alumni Scholarships.

The increasing significance of The Culver Legion, in relation to the entire spectrum of The Culver Experience, was symbolically demonstrated by the role played by The Legion in perhaps the greatest ceremonial event that has ever taken place at the Academy.

On November 2, 1925, the Culver Legion Memorial Building was dedicated to the memory of Culver's heroic dead of World War I. Never had such a distinguished contingent of national and international figures gathered on campus. Noted military figures of the war and representatives of the allied nations all met at Culver to pay tribute.

A highlight of the inspiring dedication ceremonies was E.R. Culver's formal presentation of the keys to the building to the president of The Culver Legion. As symbolic keepers of this noble memorial, The Legion's role was indelibly etched in the past, present, and future of Culver. The Legion motto still greets those who enter the building. Above the inner door of the main entrance is the inscription: "Haec Signa Duci Mataeque Accipimus" (These emblems we accept as guide and goal.) And in the Alumni Lounge in the north wing, above the fireplace, is the original shield of The Culver Legion coat of arms, which incorporates the emblems to which the motto refers. They are: oak leaf surrounded by a chain -- strength of fellowship; star enclosed by a wreath -- service and victory; broadswords and scales -- might and justice; open book flanked by torches -- tradition and knowledge.

And so in 1911, a new dimension was added to the total Culver Experience. An organization was established through which an individual could express a continuing commitment and dedication to the Culver ideal. And that organization continues to serve a vital and growing purpose, meeting today's new challenges and offering ever expanding possibilities for active participation and personal fulfillment.



An early reference to the main intent in founding The Culver Legion refers to the fact that it was viewed as "an anchor for the future" in essence, a way of assuring Culver's perpetuity. In describing The Legion in concrete terms, it is seen as an active working alumni association dedicated to promoting the general welfare of Culver Military Academy and Culver Girls Academy. This is achieved by keeping Culver alumni interested in and informed of the activities, aims, and educational philosophy of Culver. The Legion also serves as an instrument of communication between the administration and alumni of Culver in order to maintain mutual understanding.

On another level of involvement, The Culver Legion tries to acquaint others with Culver so its record of achievement and goals for the future may be more widely known and more fully appreciated. Furthermore, among The Legion's goals is the fostering of Culver's material and moral support by every appropriate means.

Perhaps the greatest service The Culver Legion renders is the introduction of outstanding potential students to the school itself. The greatest source of enrollment in the school is through patrons and alumni. Alumni, better than any other group, know and appreciate the value of a Culver education and training. The Culver Legion should be the greatest factor in providing a continuous influx of fine young people into the school.

Interest in and appreciation of the everyday workings of Culver and the endeavors of the student body also are important elements inherent in Legion participation. The Legion is a source of ideas, support, and assistance as well as a medium through which an overview or historical perspective of the Culver experience can be gained.


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