Legion Memorial Raised in National Mall

By Kevin Jennison of the Washington Post

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A monument to the deceased super-powered hero Legion was unveiled yesterday in the National Mall. The sculpture is based on photographs and news reel footage and represents the hero in his World War II glory days.

Located accross 17th Street from the World War II Memorial, the ten-foot statue is both a patriotic symbol from a golden age as well as a focus for controversy. While most of the hundreds in attendance were reverential to the fallen hero, more than a few dissonant voices could be heard during the proceedings. The common thread to the contrarian views were protests to Legion’s involvement in the Vietnam Conflict.

Harold Garland first came into the public eye at the 1915 World’s Fair in San Francisco, where he exhibited his superhuman strength. Garland was mostly a curiosity for the next decade, joining the Ringling Brothers Circus and touring the nation. In the mid-20s, he was recruited into the Bureau of Investigation to help stop the rising tide of gang violence in Chicago and New York. In 1939, he was recruited into the War Department, where he was first given the codename Legion. He fought for the British in World War II prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, at which point he transferred to the Army. A special unit called S Company was formed within the 1st Cavalry Division, comprised of all the super-powered beings that enlisted following the U.S. declaration of war.

After the allied victory, S Company was made a reserve unit and only Legion and Wareagle remained active within the Army. Both served honorably and were highly decorated during the Korean War. Following the Armistice Agreement on July 27, 1953, Wareagle retired from active duty leaving Legion as the sole remaining member of S Company.

When the U.S. sent ground troops into Vietnam in 1965, Legion became the first SPB involved on either side. This caused an uproar among the anti-war elements in the U.S. It is unknown why the Soviet Union and China elected to leave their SPB forces out of the conflict, but the end result was that Legion remained the only SPB to fight in Vietnam. Some speculated that the Communists’ decision was based on the fear that further SPB involvement could escalate into a wider conflict. Other speculation was that it was a propaganda decision as the fact that anti-war protesters had latched on to Legion as a figurehead for the Army and its primary target for vilification.

Legion returned home in 1973, disgraced and unwelcome. While many of the soldiers who fought in the war were mistreated by the general public, Legion was the face of the Army and endured even greater abuse. Not only viewed as a symbol of U.S. imperialism and as a failure, many saw him as a bully for being the only SPB involved in the conflict.

Although never officially discharged from the Army, Legion never participated in any official Army operation after coming home from Vietnam in 1973. He died four years later in Richmond, Virginia on August 24, 1977 under mysterious circumstances. Richmond Police ruled the death a homicide, but no suspects were ever identified or charged in the case.

In the intervening years, public opinion has begun to turn back in Legion’s favor. As many Americans are realizing the erroneous logic of blaming soldiers instead of policy makers for U.S. involvement in Vietnam, the public are letting Legion’s participation in Vietnam be overshadowed by his earlier contributions to America. Although a few dozen harsh voices on a cold winter morning in Washington, D.C. give evidence that he is not forgiven by all.


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