For the Greatest Generation, it was an honor and a privilege to serve and defend their country. The following excerpts are taken from a pamphlet called “FALL IN”, Greetings to the men who serve today from your comrades of 1917 and 1918. It was presented by the American Legion to my father, Lad, on May 14th, 1942, the day he reported for duty.
WHAT YOU ARE DEFENDING
Life….. Liberty….. Pursuit of Happiness
Right to Hold Property
Brotherhood of Free Peoples….. Equality of Man
The Constitution, Including the Bill of Rights
American Way of Life
THE FOUR FREEDOMS
“Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free”
- Freedom of speech and expression
- Freedom for everyone to worship according to his own faith
- Freedom from want – poverty is a crime today
- Freedom from fear – “Sic Semper Tyrannies”
This booklet could properly be titled, “Letters from a sailor father to his son.” It is a welcome to comradeship from the members of the American Legion to those young men who are now entering upon the greatest experience of their lives. They have become Service Men in the Armed Forces of the United States.
Members of the American Legion, without exception, wore the uniform of the United States with outstanding honor during the great war, now sometimes termed World War I. They were honorably discharged after the emergency but they have never ceased to serve their country. They have displayed great interest in the problems of their country; they have manifested that interest at all times by serving in peace as they served in war.
But now we are at war. Our nation has been attacked. We are starting NOW to build – to build for the preservation of freedom and the homes we love:
Therefore at a time when these forces are being expanded, trained and made ready to defend our beloved country, at any cost necessary, the American Legion greets these men and women who are now defending the same things for which we fought and for which we offered all that we were and all that we hoped to be.
We want to be the Big Brothers, the Pals and the close friends of those young defenders. We want to serve as advisers when they seek advice; it is our desire to attempt to make their road just a little smoother, their great task a little easier, and above all, to make the success of their accomplishment secure.
For these reasons we offer you this information called from our own memorable experiences of 23 years ago.
Lynn U. Stambaugh
THE SERVICE FRATERNITY
You are, or soon will be, a fraternity brother in the oldest fraternity on earth, a fraternity of men who have served their country. There is no closer brotherhood on earth, there never has been.
No one can explain it, no one can define the comradeship that exists among men who have served; it is an active, living brotherhood. Money cannot buy membership; preference finds no place on its rolls. It’s the service that counts. It’s service that pays your initiation and secures your membership. No one can take it away; nothing can take its place.
Your service is your initiation into the fraternity of all serviceman. That initiation may be a bit tough in places but it brings to the surface the fine characters of men; it also shows up the other side in some. It brings everything to the surface. There is nothing hidden during that initiation. We can visualize your experiences. We went through it and therefore we hope that we can make things better for you by giving you a brief outline of what may be ahead for you.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT
First, you are an individual worthy to defend liberty and freedom. You have chosen to preserve that for which many have died to obtain and to defend. You are to wear the uniform and the insignia of the grandest organization on earth.
Second, you are now a comrade of every man and woman who has served, or is serving under the flag of United States; of Washington, Jackson, Grant, Lee, Custer, Roosevelt, Pershing, and all the rest. After your service is completed you will find no way or preference among your comrades.
Third, you are going to have a lot of new experiences, many of which will seem very hard and burdensome as you pass through them but which will appear some time later as interesting and amusing experiences.
Fourth, you’re entering upon a new life and it will be somewhat difficult to make adjustments. The service has its regulations and traditions. They are sacred to the service so do not try to change them. They are older than you and each regulation exists for some good reason. They are worth has been proven by experience – and hard experience at that. So accept them as they are and conform yourself to them.
“The service is just what you make it.”
Next week, I’ll post a Christmas Card to Ced from the Peabodys and Grandpa’s last letter in 1944. Then I’ll begin 1945.