|August 26, 2005|
Why I'm Leaving the American Legion
An Open Letter to the National Commander
A BUZZFLASH READER
Thomas P. Cadmus
Dear Commander Cadmus:
I write today as a very distressed member of The American Legion.
I enlisted into the Regular Army in 1988 to fulfill my idealist's sense of duty -- a duty to do my part to preserve the freedom of my nation and the liberties of my countrymen. After five years of service, including duty in the Persian Gulf War, I was discharged in 1993 to join the swollen ranks of America's disabled veterans.
With my ideals and optimism mostly intact, I joined The American Legion. My membership lapsed a few times over the intervening years, but a few months ago, I started pushing those renewal notices to the top of my to-do list, and renewed my membership in The American Legion with my June paycheck.
I have been paying attention to all of the good things The American Legion does: community service, veterans' advocacy, and lobbying for veterans' issues.
Despite the Legion's support for European Fascism and Benito Mussolini 70 years ago, I felt that those sympathies of the past were just that: the past -- a dark chapter in the otherwise stalwart history of The American Legion.
Yesterday, you proved me wrong.
That your address to the National Convention this week repeated as fact the lies by which this country was led down the path to war in Iraq is despicable, but of only secondary importance to me. Passage of Resolution #3, and your statement that anti-war demonstrations should be suppressed "by any means necessary" is taken directly from playbooks written by Goebbels, Marcos and Duvalier.
I cannot speak for you, but I enlisted, trained and fought with the ideal and willingness to protect and defend the rights of all Americans, not only the ones who agree with me. First among these rights, enumerated appropriately in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, are the freedoms of Speech, of Assembly, of Association, of Religion and of the Press.
Now The American Legion has taken an official stand against The Constitution of the United States. You should be ashamed.
The American Legion's stance, and your attitude that Americans opposed to the war should be silenced as "unpatriotic," is an affront to great Americans whose lives and sacrifices I have lived to honor.
General Smedley Butler: "War is a Racket."
President George Washington: "My first wish is to see War, this plague to mankind, banished from off this earth."
President Dwight D. Eisenhower: "When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war. War settles nothing."
President Theodore Roosevelt: "To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."
I see too great a difference between the words of Great Americans and those you spoke this week in support of Resolution #3. It is therefore with a heavy heart and great anger that I must separate myself from The Legion's anti-American beliefs.
By this letter, I rescind my membership in The American Legion. From this time forward, I shall do all I can to spread the knowledge that the American Legion does not speak for me and many other veterans.
Sean T Lewis
Veterans for Peace
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