The Story of The American Legion Part 11

Attention is drawn specifically to that sentence, because it affords an excellent opportunity to explain the difference between politics and policies. The Legion has policies but it is not political. One prime policy is the demand for one hundred per cent. Americanism.

Whoever or whatever cannot read that mark, be it Chicago's mayor or the Seattle Soldier's Council, the Legion's caution is "measure up."

The Legion, _as the Legion_ will not go into municipal politics in Chicago but the members of the various posts in that city like all other Legion members stand for one hundred per cent, simon-pure patriotism and regardless of party, he who does not "measure up" had best beware. The Legion, as the Legion, never will endorse a political party or a party's candidate for office. But it will have platforms, it will have tenets, it will have principles. These platforms, tenets, and principles will be seen, felt, heard, and heeded by the voters of the United States. Furthermore, these platforms, tenets, and principles will be supported regardless of political party, political affiliations, or partisan sponsorship.



The first of the committee reports of the morning was that of the Publication Committee. This report is perhaps not so interesting a document now as it may be in later years, when, with a circulation of millions weekly, the official organ will be a tremendous power for Americanism throughout the country, spreading in every home, in every vale and hamlet the same dragnet of Americanism as the draft law did, having in its tentacles the same power for culture, breadth of experience, and abolition of sectionalism.

In view of this, the report possesses tremendous potentialities. Here it is:

"The Committee on Publication recommends that this caucus of the American Legion inaugurate a national publication which shall be the Legion's exponent of Americanism; that this, the sole and only publication of the American Legion, be owned and directed by the Legion for and in the interest of all Americans; that the Publication Committee be continued that it may proceed as organized with the details of founding this publication, with the advice and under the control of the Executive Committee of the American Legion which shall add such specially qualified members to the Publication Committee as it may see fit; that this publication shall be a National, nonpartisan, non-sectional organ for the service of the American people, a champion of Americanism which means independence, security, health, education, greater contentment, and progress for every patriot, to be the torch, the beacon light thrown into our hands by the Americans who fell, and held as a unique and living monument to that other legion which did not come back.

"(Signed) G.P. PUTNAM, _Chairman._ "CHARLES D. KELLEY, _Secretary_."

As an aside it may be interesting to say that there were at least half a dozen publishers, some with veteran journals already started, in St.

Louis with the most alluring offers. Each wanted to have his publication designated as the official organ. Several other propositions were made, one syndicate offering to publish the magazine, bear the entire expense, give the Legion fifty per cent. of the stock, and allow it to control the editorial policy. All the syndicate wanted was the official endorsement. From other quarters came the word that a million dollars would be forthcoming, if such a large amount was necessary, in order to start the publication, but those who would furnish it wanted some return, naturally. However the Publication Committee felt, as set forth in the resolutions, that the magazine must be entirely owned and solely controlled by the Legion.

If it was worth a million dollars to anybody else, it certainly was worth conserving in every possible way for the Legion.

Again I am going to let the minutes take up the story. Some of the details which they give in the next few pages are illustrative of the interest and care which the caucus took when it came to important matters.

SECRETARY WOOD: "The Committee on Resolutions begs to submit the following report:

"'GENERAL PRINCIPLES AND CREED--Recognizing the supreme obligation of the citizens to maintain our national honor and integrity, and being resolved that the fruits of the Great War shall not die, we who participated in the war in order that the principles of justice, freedom, and democracy may more completely direct and influence the daily lives of America's manhood, do announce our adherence to the following principles and purposes:

"'(a) To inculcate the duties and obligations of citizenship.

"'(b) To preserve the history and incidents of our participation in this war.

"'(c) To cement the ties of comradeship formed in service.

"'(d) To promote, assist, and protect the general welfare of all soldiers, sailors, and marines and those dependent upon them.

"'(e) To encourage the maintenance of individual and national efficiency to the end that the nation shall never fail in its obligations.

"'(f) To maintain the principle that undivided and uncompromising support of the constitution of the United States is the true test of loyalty.'" (Applause.)

THE CHAIRMAN: "Do you desire to pass on that as read, gentlemen, or by paragraphs?"

MR. JOHNSON (Rhode Island): "I move it be adopted as a whole."

Seconded by Mr. Black of New York.

COL. HERBERT (Mass.): "I would like to ask for information: if there aren't more eligible to membership in the American Legion than are cited--soldiers, sailors, and marines?"

THE CHAIRMAN: "The committee understands that covers everything. The direct eligibility comes up later."

COL. HERBERT: "But before we adopt this we must know who are eligible so it may be inserted there. As I read the qualifications for membership the members of the enlisted nurse corps are eligible to membership in the American Legion. If they are eligible they must be included there. If there are any others they must be included."

MR. FISH (of New York): "I make a motion to the effect that this report be laid on the table until the constitution has been adopted.

There are points in this resolution that conflict with the preamble and by-laws of the constitution. I move you, Mr. Chairman, that the first paragraph of the resolution as read be laid on the table until after the constitution is adopted. I will amend my motion to that effect."

COL. HERBERT: "I want to hear that reread."

SECRETARY WOOD: "What I have read, and what I am about to read again, is the first paragraph of the report of the Resolutions Committee.

There are many other paragraphs. The second one, for instance, is an endorsement of the Victory Liberty Loan. If you lay the whole report on the table we have to wait until later to consider resolutions as a whole. The first paragraph is as follows:"

Secretary read first paragraph.

MR. MILLIGAN: "I wish to make a further amendment that the entire report be laid on the table until after the constitution has been adopted. I don't believe it is the sense of this meeting to hear the report of this committee in fragments."

COLONEL LEA (of Tenn.): "If this report, or any part of it, is laid on the table it means final disposition of it under the rules of the House of Representatives. I don't think we want to do that until the report is read. As a substitute for the pending motion and amendment, I move that further reading and action of the report be suspended until after the report of the Committee on Constitution and By-Laws."

Seconded by Mr. Black of New York and carried.

THE CHAIRMAN: "The Secretary will now proceed to read the resolutions."

SECRETARY WOOD: "Endorsement of the Victory Liberty Loan.

"'WHEREAS, The Government of the United States has appealed to the country for financial support in order to provide the funds for expenditures made necessary in the prosecution of the war, and to reestablish the country upon a peace basis, therefore be it

"'RESOLVED that this caucus emphatically endorse the Victory Liberty Loan, and urges all Americans to promote the success of the loan in every manner possible.'"

THE CHAIRMAN: "What is your pleasure with regard to that resolution?"

MR. SULLIVAN: "I move the adoption of the resolution."

Seconded by Mr. Wickersham of New York and carried.

SECRETARY WOOD: "Conscientious Objectors.

"'RESOLVED, that this caucus go on record as condemning the action of those responsible for protecting the men who refused full military service to the United States in accordance with the act of Congress of May 18, 1917, and who were tried by general court-martial, sentenced to prison and later fully pardoned, restored to duty and honorably discharged, with all back pay and allowances given them, and as condemning further the I.W.W.'s, international socialists, and anarchists in their effort to secure the release of these men already pardoned, and those still in prison, serving sentence, and be it further

"'RESOLVED, that this caucus requests a full and complete investigation by Congress of the trial and conviction of these parties and of their subsequent pardon." (Applause.)

COLONEL HERBERT (of Mass.): "I move you, sir, that this convention substitute the word 'demand' instead of 'request' where it says 'We request Congress.' We are a body large enough and representative enough and powerful enough to tell Congress what we want (applause), not to ask it, and I move the substitution of the word 'demand'

instead of 'request.'"

Seconded by Luke Lea of Tennessee.

THE CHAIRMAN: "The motion is now for the adoption of the resolution as read, substituting the word 'demand' for 'request.'"

ALBERT H. WILSON (of Idaho): "Gentlemen of this convention, before this is put to the body of this house, I want to offer a resolution that the man who convicted these men at Camp Funston be permitted to give the facts of those convictions and the facts of those discharges to the body of this house. I refer, gentlemen, to Major Foster, of Camp Funston, of the General Staff at Camp Funston, and I offer a resolution to that effect. Will you hear him?"

Chapter end

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