The American Legion was founded in 1919 and the only criteria for membership was to be a veteran of The Great War. We reaffirmed that in 1923 when a National Resolution was passed:

“Whereas: The fundamental law of our country guarantees to all peoples equal rights and equal opportunities and the right to worship their God they see fit; and…”

“Whereas: Membership in The American Legion is made up of those who served our country in a time of great National stress, without distinction as to race, color, creed, or class; and…”

“Resolved: … that we consider any individual, group of individuals or organizations, which creates or fosters racial, religious or class strife among our people, or which takes into their own hands the enforcement of law, determination of guilt or infliction of punishment, to be un-American, a menace to our liberties and destructive to our fundamental law; and be it finally”

“Resolved: That we consider such actions by any individuals, groups or organizations, to be inconsistent with the ideals and purposes of The American Legion.”

History shows that one of the reasons behind this resolution was the reemergence of the Ku Klux Klan. Our concerns included care for all orphans and widows of those who died in WWI, care and rehabilitation for all wounded in that war, as well as teaching and reinforcing the ideals of Americanism, including respect for the American flag, the right to vote for all legally entitled to vote under the 15th and 19th amendments to the Constitution.

The American Legion was one factor in the writing of and pushed for the passage of, the U,S. Flag Code. This code covers the rules of display, care and maintenance, as well as respect for The Colors. These are not enforceable under the law yet, but we Legionnaires have been engaged for many years with Congress and the 50 states to add an amendment to the Constitution to protect the flag.

For many service members, their families and veterans, the flag is more than a symbol of America; it is America and all she represents. No matter where we come from, that flag is home.

But we also swear an oath to uphold the Constitution when we join the military, whether officer or enlisted. When this country goes to war, we do so to protect our borders from outsiders who want to hurt us and to defend freedom and all that comes from those freedoms throughout the world.

I and many veterans I have spoken and we are disheartened to see the disrespect shown to the flag by those protesting today’s racial problems. That does not mean we disagree with those protesters; in fact, every one of us agree with them. However, instead of just protesting the ills of society, let us try to work towards a solution. Until we can understand each other and try to find common ground for a better life, things will not change.

Remember, today’s servicemen and women, and all veterans, put on our uniform to protect your right to protest. Now let’s come together and find a respectful, peaceful and permanent solution to the problem.

Tom Moore is adjutant of Wilton Post 86. The post may be reached at legionpost86@gmail.com.