Pillar III: Americanism

Many cultural, moral and patriotic values have come under serious attack in the United States in recent years. Prayer has been removed from schools. The U.S. Flag is no longer protected from anarchists. Boy Scouts of America faces serious legal duels in the communities it serves. The institution of marriage is under siege. Immigration laws are defied. References to God have been challenged on U.S. currency, in the Pledge of Allegiance and in the public square, all by a minority of voices whose vision for America is far different from that of our founding fathers. Our nation's very identity is at stake as more and more values are driven toward extinction.

As an organization dedicated to God and country, with a membership of military veterans that takes deep pride in the U.S. Flag and all it means, The American Legion has always been a stalwart champion of patriotism, morality and citizenship. Upon the pillar of Americanism is The American Legion's devotion to law and order, the raising of wholesome youth, respectful observance of patriotic holidays and remembrances, education and law-abiding citizenship.

Among The American Legion's highest Americanism priorities in the 2008 election year are:

U.S. Flag Protection. The U.S. Constitution should be amended to add the following: "The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States."

The American Legion joins all the states and an overwhelming majority of citizens in its position that the American flag deserves legal protection from acts of intentional public physical desecration. In 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court declared flag desecration to be a "right" protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. The American Legion disagreed then and reaffirms now that flag desecration is a form of conduct - not speech - that can and should be regulated by law.

All 50 state legislatures have petitioned Congress for a constitutional amendment that would give power to Congress to prohibit such conduct. Poll after poll show that upwards of 80 percent of Americans support flag protection. Lopsided majorities in both houses of Congress have supported a flag amendment, the House of Representatives having passed such a proposed amendment in six consecutive votes; the measure has fallen just slightly short of achieving super-majority in the Senate, leaving it just one vote short of passing in the 109th Congress. As a symbol of our nation, the U.S. Flag belongs to the people, who should be given the power to protect it. The American Legion's position on its protection is inviolate.

Illegal Immigration. The American Legion supports manageable, legal immigration. By multiple resolutions that determine policy, the Legion adamantly opposes illegal immigration, amnesty for those who illegally enter the United States and ineffective measures to prevent illegal border crossing, particularly during a time of war.

The Legion's strategy to combat illegal immigration calls for strong border security, including physical barriers and high-tech surveillance methods; the elimination of economic and social-services benefits for illegal immigrants; employer sanctions against those who knowingly hire illegal immigrants; and the enforcement of existing immigration laws. The Legion also supports new laws that deny illegal immigrants driver's licenses, establish parameters for non-criminal deportation, and designate English as the official language of the U.S. government. The Legion's position on illegal immigration seeks elimination of the visa lottery program, the creation of new visa categories for agricultural workers to replace those who are working illegally, and authority to track foreign visitors to include college students, press, and members of any foreign diplomatic corps.

Illegal immigration stands as one of the most serious problems facing America, with as many as 20 million illegal immigrants inside our borders and billions of dollars spent providing social services, education and jobs for them. The American Legion supports the law on this matter and strongly urges the U.S. government to enforce it.

Voter Registration and Participation. The American Legion connects good government with active citizen participation in the electoral process. Legion posts throughout the country offer their services and facilities to stimulate registration and turnout at the polls. Posts also provide facilities and opportunities for non-partisan voter-education forums and debates. Under the provisions of its federal charter, it is important to note, The American Legion is prohibited from supporting, opposing or providing aid to any political party or any candidate for public office.

Boy Scouts of America. The American Legion vigorously opposes attempts to strip the Boy Scouts of public support, sponsorship and facility space due to the organization's membership or leadership criteria. The Scouts teach skills, build character, and provide a healthy and wholesome outlet for young Americans. The organization should not be punished or persecuted for acknowledging God in its oath or for setting leadership restrictions based on a moral code that the majority of Americans endorse.

The Pledge of Allegiance. Recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance by students and teachers in our nation's schools should be a regular part of school activities and events. In support of keeping "under God" in the pledge, The American Legion affirms that pledging allegiance to the flag is the voluntary offering of a patriotic oath to the nation; that no one should be denied this opportunity; and that the removal of these words will set a precedent that questions the propriety of numerous references to a supreme being in historical documents, on currency and on many of our government buildings, to include the U.S. Supreme Court.

Establishment-Clause Lawsuits. The American Legion is dedicated to combating the secular cleansing of our American heritage, performed by lawsuits that attack the Boy Scouts, the public display of the Ten Commandments and other symbols of America's religious history. The authority given by Congress to the courts to impose damages, or attorney fees, in establishment-clause cases is being used by the American Civil Liberties Union and others to compel municipalities, state and federal agencies, along with private groups, to cast off religious association, often in pursuit of tax-funded attorney fees.