American Legion Riders chapters are well known for their charitable work, which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for local children's hospitals, schools, veterans homes, severely wounded servicemembers and scholarships. Since 2006, Riders nationwide have participated in The American Legion Legacy Run to annually raise money for the Legacy Scholarship Fund, established to provide scholarships to children of U.S. military personnel killed since Sept. 11, 2001.
In Garden City, Mich., in 1993, Chuck "Tramp" Dare and Bill "Polka" Kaledas, commander of American Legion Post 396, shared an idea to start a motorcycle enthusiasts association within the organization. The two longtime riders wanted an environment where Legion family members could come together to share a common love for motorcycles.
Dare and Kaledas wrote a letter to Michigan Department Adjutant Hubert Hess, sharing their idea. Hess replied that he liked the concept and wanted to pursue it. Later, he gave Kaledas and Dare instructions for managing the program at the post level. He also explained how they could be approved to use the American Legion emblem, and how to gain Membership's support and recognition. At a regular meeting, Post 396 members passed a resolution for a new program to be known as the "American Legion Riders."
Joined by 19 other founding members from their post, Dare and Kaledas were flooded with requests for information about their organization. They agreed to establish a central source for the Riders to ensure that chapters formed not as motorcycle clubs or gangs, but as Legionnaires and Auxiliary and SAL members joining to ride as Legion family.
Legion Riders today
Currently, over 150,000 American Legion Riders meet in over 2,100 chapters in every domestic department and in at least three foreign countries. Riders in Iowa have formed an honor guard called The Five Star Freedom Riders, and Riders in Mulvane, Kan., founded the Patriot Guard to protect the sanctity of military funerals from protesters. Riders in all states have escorted military units returning home from combat tours overseas, conducted massive cross-country fundraising events for wounded warriors from all services, and have raised millions of dollars for countless local, state and national charities. Many Riders, supported by their departments, conduct annual statewide Legacy Runs in direct support of American Legion scholarship progras of Operation Comfort Warriors (OCW), supporting our wounded servicemembers across the nation.
True to the Legion's grassroots tradition, each chapter manages its programs at the post level, where the best ideas are born. The Riders are part of many projects and events, including:
- Annual regional rides such as Operation Wounded Warrior, sponsored by Riders in Nevada, Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, California and other Western states.
- Local charity events in support of The American Legion and local communities.
- Raising money for VA hospitals, women and children centers, children and youth centers, schools and other facilities.
- Sponsoring or participating in motorcycle runs to benefit numerous charities.
- Local memorial ceremonies and community parades.
- The American Legion Legacy Run, an annual cross-country fundraising ride from National Headquarters in Indianapolis to the national convention city.
- Riding to honor fallen military men and women, and to protect the sanctity of their funerals from those who would dishonor their memory.
- Escorting military units to departure airfields and airports for combat tours overseas, and welcoming them home upon their return.
"American Legion Riders as a National Program"
FROM RESOLUTION 35 AS VOTED ON BY THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE AMERICAN LEGION ON OCTOBER 17-18, 2007 AND AMENDED BY RESOLUTION 5 BY THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE AMERICAN LEGION ON MAY 5-6, 2021
All American Legion Rider groups must be a program supported by a Post or Department of The American Legion and shall uphold the declared principles of The American Legion as well as conform to and abide by the regulations and decisions of the Department, Post or other duly constituted Department governing body.
The following guidelines are recommended for The ALR program of The American Legion:
1. All members of the ALR shall be current members of The American Legion, Sons of The American Legion or American Legion Auxiliary.
2. Each ALR member shall establish and maintain ALR membership by owning, individually or through marriage, a common-law marriage, a life partnership or a longterm relationship, a motorcycle licensed and insured as required by the ALR member’s state laws.
3. ALR programs may allow for continued ALR membership for those ALR members who have given up motorcycle ownership because of age, illness, injury or other reasons outside the ALR member’s control.
4. ALR programs may allow current members of The American Legion family to join ALR chapters as supporting members.
5. The only approved titles for ALR officers shall be chairman and vice-chairman or director and assistant director.
6. All ALR members shall maintain the image of The American Legion, protect The American Legion’s Emblems, which symbolizes the integrity and principles of The American Legion and if wearing Emblem items then the Emblem items will be American Legion authorized Emblems.
7. ALR members’ vests should display the integrity, principles and values of The American Legion and the ALR by avoiding patches or pins with (1) explicit or offensive language and/or images and (2) political or partisan language and/or images since The American Legion is a non-partisan organization.
8. The ALR chapter should strive to represent the virtues, values, ethics and morals of The American Legion in support of freedom, democracy and the safety of our citizens.
9. Per NEC Resolution No. 37, May 4-5, 1988 ALR chapters do not have the authority to enter into any formal association or club/council membership with any outside organization that may act or vote in any manner outside the control of The American Legion.
10. All ALR members shall obey the laws of their respective state and/or the state(s) in which they ride.
11. The ALR chapter’s sponsoring organization (post, district and/or department) are strongly urged to review liability insurance coverage to ensure that adequate insurance coverage is available to insure/cover the sponsoring organization, including insurance coverage for any specific special riding event
American Legion Rider groups shall abide by The American Legion Constitution and By-laws as well as the established Post and Department directives.
The American Legion National Headquarters and the respective Departments shall maintain general oversight of ALR Program as regards to proper use of the name and emblem of The American Legion, ALR and The American Legion Legacy Run, and compliance with the National Constitution and By-Laws of The American Legion.