Post 20, a part of the National Press Club for all of the post’s 100-plus years, received its charter on November 19, 1919. The post began at the urging of the most celebrated American commander of World War I. General John “Black Jack” Pershing was an associate member of NPC. In the same year that Pershing helped found the American Legion, he also suggested a post within the Press Club.
At the centennial celebration in 2019, NPC President Alison Kodjak noted that the Press Club itself was nearly 112 years old. “You’ve been with us just about every step of the way,” Kodjak told Post 20 members and guests.
She also pointed out that NPC represents the core American values of freedom of speech and freedom of the press—and Post 20 represents the core value of service to country. Kodjak’s grandfather, father, and brother served in the Navy.
“Post 20 has a very illustrious history,” former NPC president Myron Belkind said. Belkind is a member of Post 20 who spent more than four decades as a foreign correspondent and bureau chief for the Associated Press. He served in the Army in Vietnam as a public affairs specialist.
Belkind said the post’s commanders have included John Cosgrove, 1961 NPC President. Cosgrove survived eight kamikaze attacks on his destroyer escort during World War II. He presented President John F. Kennedy with his NPC membership card.
Sarah McClendon was another of Post 20’s commanders. McClendon covered the White House for decades for her McClendon News Service. She served as a public relations officer for the Women’s Army Corps in World War II.
Post 20 member and 1956 NPC President Frank Holeman was an Army counter-intelligence staff sergeant during World War II. Holeman was among the first U.S. occupation troops to land in Honshu in 1945.
Cosgrove, McClendon, and Holeman all have rooms named for them in the National Press Club.
A program run by Post 20 during World War II led to one of the most iconic photographs of the twentieth century. On Saturday afternoons, Post 20 and NPC held “canteens” for enlisted service members in Washington.
At one of the events, then-Vice President Harry Truman played an upright piano while Hollywood starlet Lauren Bacall lounged atop the instrument. Photos of the event appeared all over the world, including the cover of Life Magazine on May 17, 1945. Almost three-quarters of a century later, that piano holds an honored place in the club’s Truman Lounge.
Join Us and Keep this History Alive