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Past Cmdr
Riley Leroy Pitts
Post GR07

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The American Legion
Riley Leroy Pitts
Post GR07
CMR 421, Box 302
APO, AE 09056
Department of France
Mannheim/Worms, Germany

[Chaplain's Corner]
[Member's List]
[Post History]
[Minutes / Documents]
[Contact Us]
[Past Cmdr]



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Travis J. Martens
Past Commander
My Fellow Legionnaires,
This is a place where I will discuss and explain the lines in our Preamble in an attempt to better explain what the American Legion is all about.



March 2005

To Inculcate a sense of individual obligation to the community, State and Nation.
This one is very difficult to teach.  It is something you learn as a child.  We as the American Legion do our best to do this with our youth with all the programs listed in our previous conversations.
We have a duty to perform this daunting task.  It may be very difficult to do but it must be done.  Without this sense of obligation the children and even the adults will not serve the comm7unity by volunteering in their local community, the State and Nation by paying taxes, obeying laws, or serving in our Armed Forces.  Without these people our way of life would be under great stress from outside sources beyond our control.  This would cause a fall of our way of life in time.
Our weapon of choice in the battle against indifference is us, ourselves, by making our presence felt in our communities by helping our vets and our children.  Even by participating in fun activities like parades and social get-togethers we make our presence felt sometimes that is enough for someone to feel that they too can do something for their community.  And if we as the American Legion teach just one person in that way we have done our job to the best of our ability, we should be proud of what we have accomplished.



January 2005

"To preserve the memories and incidents of our association in the Great Wars."

We also have another great responsibility – we must maintain the memories and incidents of all that served in all the Great Wars.  One way we do this is by having a POW/MIA Remembrance Service at every meeting that goes through the entire list of items on a small table.  Here is the ceremony:

POW/MIA Remembrance Service

Members should remove their caps during this service.

“Those who have served, and those currently serving in the uniformed services of the United States, are ever mindful that the sweetness of enduring peace has always been tainted by the bitterness of personal sacrifice.  We are compelled to never forget that while we enjoy our daily pleasures, there are others who have endured and may still be enduring the agonies of pain, deprivation and imprisonment.

“Before we begin our activities, we pause to recognize our POWs and MIAs.

“We call your attention to this small table which occupies a place of dignity and honor.  It is set for one, symbolizing the fact that members of our armed forces are missing from our ranks.  They are referred to as POWs and MIAs.

We call them comrades.  They are unable to be with their loved ones and families, so we join together to pay humble tribute to them, and to bear witness to their continued absence.

“The table is small, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner, alone against his or her suppressors.

“The tablecloth is white, symbolic of the purity of their intentions to respond to their Country’s call to arms.

“The single rose in the vase signifies the blood they may have shed in sacrifice to ensure the freedom of our beloved United States of America.  This rose also reminds us of the family and friends of our missing comrades who keep faith, while awaiting their return.

“The red ribbon on the vase represents the red ribbons worn on the lapels of the thousands who demand, with unyielding determination, a proper account of our comrades who are not among us.

“A slice of lemon on the plate reminds us of their bitter fate.

“The salt sprinkled on the plate reminds us of the countless fallen tears of families as they wait.

“The glass is inverted, they cannot toast with us at this time.

“The chair is empty.  They are NOT here.

“The candle is reminiscent of the light of hope, which lives in our hearts to illuminate their way home, away from their captors, to open arms of a grateful nation.

“The American flag reminds us that many of them may never return—and have paid the supreme sacrifice to insure our freedom.

“Let us pray to the Supreme Commander that all of our comrades will soon be back within our ranks.

“Let us remember—and never forget their sacrifice.

“May God forever watch over them and protect them and their families.”

We also preserve the memories by participating in the Memorial and Labor Day parades.  We also participate in Grave Visitation that we do semi-annually on Memorial and Labor Days in which we place an American flag on the grave sites.  We also do our very best to take care of the widows and dependents of those that serve the U.S. military in all of its functions.  We have many programs that we support.  Blue Star Program for those dependents left behind.  Need a Lift, a scholarship program for college bound students.  And many other programs that we support through the BSB community.

We also have many other programs that the Legion participates in.  Saint of Old, American Legion Endowment Fund, and some other programs for veterans of all the wars.  We also help with veterans in filing and claiming VA benefits.

We must never forget those that have upheld our freedom often with the highest price you can pay.  Some still are in harms way.

I would request that anyone reading this take a little bit of time and say a small word for those still in harms way.



November 2004

"To foster and perpetuate a one hundred percent Americanism" is the most important and largest reaching of all of  the key principles of our great organization.  The first part of this is our association with the youth of America. 

We are active in schools with our Oratorical program, a contest for speech writing and giving.  School awards, a good GPA, or great improvement in Boys & Girls State, which is a form of student government, is where we assist in the development of the future leaders of our nation.
We also support children in after school programs, such as Boy Scouts, sports, and other after school activities.  This is one of the most rewarding areas of our organization.  Dealing with the younger children in our community is one of the best rewards some of our members receive.  We as a Post have a member that donates almost all of his free time to helping with Children Youth Services.  He has done this for many years. I also love to see the faces of the children when we pass out candy at Halloween.  It makes many of our older members smile with a glimmer in their eyes.
Americanization of aliens is one of the least talked about aspects of our organization.  We should assist people who are attempting to become American citizens.  Most of this help is on a one to one basis.
We as an organization must counter-act all anti-American propaganda.  This is a dark side of actions that we must protect against.  We must also make sure that we don't step on anyone's first amendment rights to free speech.  This is a very fine line to tread on.  The best way to combat that is by giving people the facts about our great nation.
We also support flag etiquette.  We have an obligation to insure that all Americans treat the flag with great reverence.  We have many programs that help with this.  We personally as an Army Post have classes at the Army Community Services center for in-processing personnel.  We also do some activities with the children of the Mannheim area.  We have many pamphlets and books that detail every aspect of that topic and it covers all possible questions and every possible topic you can conceive.
Junior ROTC is the last program that falls under Americanism.  We help with the ceremonies and drills along with awards for superb conduct in any number of different areas of their training.  We also support them with any service project that they have to do.  This can be a very rewarding program too because you deal with young people who are motivated to be patriotic.
These are the most visible items that we as the American Legion participate in.  So this is the best way to get seen by our communities.



October 2004


The first line is:  “To uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.”  This one sounds easy to explain and it is…but it is also the hardest one to do.


To uphold means obey, to hold in high regards.  We as an organization must obey the Constitution.  That would in itself seem easy, but not every one outside the organization does.  We as an organization must do our best to explain to the general public about what all the Constitution means.  Some of it is very hard to understand.  It can also be misinterpreted.  Everyone I know has a different idea about something in it.  We as an organization must convey a general understanding of the complexity of that very important document.


To defend the Constitution is the hardest part of the whole line.  There are other organizations and people out there that want to undermine and dismantle the Constitution.  They want to eliminate some of the freedoms provided by that document.  Not only does that affect all people, but there is an even larger problem lurking around the corner.  The separation of powers by the three branches of government over the last couple of years.  The members of both the elected and appointed government have pushed the boundaries of the Constitution almost to a breaking point. 


As the largest veterans organization we must carefully watch the situation.  We must also be ready to act if someone does cross the line.  We must also be ready to defend our Nation and way of life.  We are all ex-military from one branch of service or another.  In the world we live in the military is starting to call up some of the retired and separated members in our organization.  Those members must fulfill their obligation to this great Nation and do what is asked of them. 


We as an organization must help in the war against terrorism.  The are an enemy striking at the heart of what we as a Nation and the Constitution stands for.  Freedom!  That is our biggest threat.  That is our calling.  That is our Duty.  That is our honor.  To do what we can, when we can for this great Nation and our way of life.


For God and Country,



Travis J. Martens

Past Commander, Post GR07



The American Legion
Riley Leroy Pitts, Post GR07
Department of France
Mannheim / Worms, Germany
Mailing Address:
Riley Leroy Pitts, Post GR07
CMR 421, Box 302
APO, AE 09056
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