Explanation of the Preamble to the Constitution
“For God and Country, we associate ourselves together for the following purposes: To uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America…”
The first of the 10 principles of The American Legion and Auxiliary is a sacred pledge of allegiance to the Constitution of the United States. It is most appropriate that the first ideas presented in the Preamble be dedicated to the continued defense of our nation by those very persons who have either served in wartime or had a close relative who served. The pledge to uphold and defend America is the first obligation of every Legionnaire and Auxiliary member.
“To maintain law and order…”
Law and order must be maintained if freedom is to be maintained. Liberty is not license. Good government means that all citizens are secure in their lives and property. To this, the American Legion and Auxiliary are pledged by the second principle stated in the Preamble.
“To foster and perpetuate a one hundred percent Americanism…” The term “Americanism” covers all of the things that have made the American nation great and the American people free. It implies qualities of character as well as principles of government. Under this Constitution’s principles, the American Legion and Auxiliary have worked, and are continuing to work, to defeat the attempts of subversive organizations to undermine our system. We attempt to build loyalty to and confidence in American ideals, and to develop an American citizenship capable of making America’s free form of government a constantly greater success.
“To preserve the memories and incidents of our associations during the Great Wars…”
Every member of the American Legion and Auxiliary has close personal associations with the sacrifice of war, be it World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada/Lebanon, Panama, Persian Gulf War (Operation Just Cause, Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and the War in Afghanistan. The associations and incidents of these struggles are to be remembered not only for their heroes, their victories for freedom, but also to remind us of the awful implications and inevitable tragedies accompanying war.
“To inculcate a sense of individual obligation to the community, state and nation…”
The individual is the basis of the American nation. Unlike other ideas of government, the American ideal places the individual first. The nation belongs to the individual, not the individual to the nation. The government exists for the purpose of serving the individual, not the individual for the purpose of serving the nation. If this ideal is to survive, there must be a voluntary sense of obligation of the individual to the nation and its component parts, the community and state. The American citizen serves his community, state and nation, not as a driven slave, but as a free man guided by his own sense of duty. To inculcate this feeling among all Americans is one of the great purposes of the American Legion and Auxiliary.
“To combat the autocracy of both the classes and the masses…”
If America is to remain “the land of the free,” the government must always be a government of all the people and for all the people. No classes are recognized in America. No masses of downtrodden people exist. Neither must be permitted to develop, but America must be kept the country of opportunity for all, where every citizen’s first allegiance is to the nation, not to some social or economic class or mass. Dominance must not be gained by any such grouping of Americans. This is another basic pledge of the American Legion and Auxiliary.
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