By: Robert Vanselow
May 24,2023 GreendalePost416.org
Americanism is a term used to describe the cultural, values, beliefs. And customs that are associated with the United States of American. It encompasses a wide range of ideas and practices, including democracy, individualism, freedom, capitalism, and patriotism. Americanism has been shaped by the country’s history, geography, and diverse population, and it continues to evolve over time.
The American Legion was founded by front-line officers in World War I who had emerged from the all-volunteer prewar Preparedness Movement with firsthand concern about the prospect of combat with limited resources, weapons, training, and supplies. After the armistice, they added another ingredient to their concerns: public understanding and appreciation of the American identity. At the time, only about half of American teenagers attended high school regularly, and a large percentage of World Ware I troops were conscripted immigrants who were under-educated in U.S. government, law, and history, to address this issue, the early American Legion set U.S. citizenship among immigrants as a top priority.
The American Legions founders were deeply concerned about how the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia might spill over into the United States, Communist recruits were already pitching their thing to young Americans, including troops still stationed in Europe after the armistice. Fascism and Nazism later appeared on the global landscape and recruited in the United States at a time before media or policymakers fully understood the intentions of Benito Mussolini or Adolf Hilter. The American Legion was early and firm in its opposition to anti-democracy ideologies, they had fought “to make the world safe for democracy. “To the founders of the Legion, the best kind of “ism” was Americanism.
Racism was specifically denounced by the early Legion, which passed a resolution in 1923 that remains on the books and condemns any individual, group, or organization that “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.”
The American Legion founders believed veterans should be catalysts in local unity and assistance, strengthening communities and building pride through individual obligation. Throughout the decades, American Legion youth programs were established and operated to do more than teach young people to hit baseballs and bullseyes. American Legion Baseball, Boys State, and the American Legion Oratorical Contest are just a few examples of programs that teach young people how government functions in successful democracy.
The American Legion’s relationship with Boy Scouts of America grew to include numerous Americanism activities for Scouts, including ceremonies to respectfully retire worn-out U.S. flags. The American Legion continues to promote Americanism through programs and services that improve communities, strengthen law, and order, and oppose the endless drive to supplant our American way with dictatorship. True Americanism is and ideology that is continually nurtured with one’s soul through individual daily actions, thoughts, and beliefs in what their responsibilities are to be, blessed to live in one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.