As we celebrate the American Legion's 97th birthday on March 15, duty, honor and country are the three words that capture the story of the American Legion over its more than nine decades in existence.
The duty that we have as Legionnaires is spelled out in the Preamble to the Constitution of the American Legion. It’s our duty to “uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America."
It’s our duty to “maintain law and order, to foster and perpetuate 100 percent Americanism and to preserve the memories and incidents of our associations in the Great Wars.”
You can see these duties carried out when we honor our Law Enforcement Officers of the Year, when we take positions to support our great Constitution and when we teach flag etiquette to young people and sponsor the best youth programs in the country.
Honor is not just the way we live our lives but it is the emotion that most Americans feel when they see a Legionnaire wearing our cap and our emblem.We are proud to be veterans and the overwhelming majority of our citizens are proud of us as well.
It is an honor to assist wounded, injured and ill veterans through our Operation Comfort Warriors program. It is an honor to play roles in awarding a veteran with well-deserved benefits earned by military service.
It is for our country that the American Legion insists that our government deliver on President Lincoln’s promise “to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan." It is for our country and our communities that we advocate for a strong national defense. It is for our country that we insist that our flag be constitutionally protected from desecration. It is for our country that many of our comrades made the supreme sacrifice while defending our freedom.
Duty, honor and country are the essence of our service as Legionnaires.They are attributes found among all American military veterans.
Are you a veteran and not a member of the American Legion? You should be. Legionnaires are the reason you have veterans benefits. It is our strong membership that fought to establish a Veterans Administration, won education benefits through the Post 9/11 GI Bill and secured veteran employment rights.
Membership also allows us to support our community through American Legion Baseball, Boys and Girl State, Legion Oratorical contests, Junior ROTC, Junior Shooting Sports and Junior Law Cadet.
As the American Legion celebrates its birthday, I urge my fellow veterans to join us. Remember that a strong membership is important to continue supporting our veterans and active military members and to ensure that the promises made to us for serving our country do not become empty promises.