By: C. Pat Smith, Department Adjutant

As we enter the holiday season we must remember to give thanks for all of the blessings bestowed upon this great country. I believe that much of our success as a God fearing nation comes from our foundation in faith established by our founders. Our ability to maintain a good moral foundation will determine the fate of this nation in the future. History teaches us that lesson well.

But while we owe our very existence in this country to our God, we owe our freedoms to those who were brave enough to put on the uniform of the country and fight to preserve our rights to worship as we wish. Generations of veterans have gone before us with some paying the ultimate price because they believed. It is because of these special people we exist as an organization. As we approach Thanksgiving and celebrate with our family and friends let us keep in mind that we can celebrate because of our brave young men and women in uniform today.

While our country is facing many economic challenges, our returning veterans are struggling to fit into a different society than they left a few short years ago.

Unemployment for veterans is higher than the general population. Most veterans in uniform today have at least one tour of duty in a war zone, resulting in some level of PTS. Depression and suicide seem to be a common thread among returning vets. Family problems abound, including a high level of divorce.

Many veterans who served in Iraq are suffering some level of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The medical community is struggling to keep up in trying to find cures for TBI. The VA will be busy for years to come treating these OEF/OIF veterans. Alternative treatments must be found to treat TBI, other than massive amounts of pharmaceuticals. That’s why The American Legion is pushing Congress and the VA to fully investigate the Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment (HBOT) for TBI veterans.

So our job is clear. As The American Legion we must maintain the moral foundation established by our founders. As a family ourselves with the Legion, Auxiliary, Sons of the Legion and the Junior Auxiliary members we must lead the way. We must instill in our children and grand children the very principles for which we exist as an organization. Those principles are contained in our Preamble as follows:

To uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America;

To maintain law and order;

To foster and perpetuate a one hundred percent Americanism;

To preserve the memories and incidents of our associations in the Great Wars;

To inculcate a sense of individual obligation to the community, state and nation;

To combat the autocracy of both the classes and the masses;

To make right the master of might;

To promote peace and goodwill on earth;

To safeguard and transmit to posterity the principles of justice, freedom and democracy;

(Auxiliary portion) to participate in and contribute to the accomplishment of the aims and purposes of The American Legion;

To consecrate and sanctify our comradeship by our devotion to mutual helpfulness.

(SAL portion) To adopt in letter and spirit all of the great principles for which The American stands; and to assist in carrying on for God and Country.

Embodied in those 143 words are who we are as an organization and who we are as a freedom loving, God fearing people. If we just practice what we preach in this preamble, this organization will become bigger, stronger and more influential in educating all Americans about the need for a strong moral society and a strong military to defend the freedom we love so dearly.

While we enjoy the holidays with family and friends let us remember the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who will not be home for the holidays. Keep them in our thoughts and prayers. During this season let us renew our commitment to this organization, for our work will never be done as long as tyranny exists in the world.