The Ladies Auxiliary's Americanism program, like the VFW program of the same name, strives to foster love for the United States and loyalty to its institutions and ideals. In the program's infancy, it was closely associated with the VFW's Americanism program. Back then, Auxiliary members and VFW members often worked side by side toward common Americanism goals - for example, the adoption of the "Star-Spangled Banner" as America's official national anthem, and the passage of the "Cash Bonus" for World War I veterans.
As the Auxiliary's Americanism program matured, it began to take on patriotic projects of its own. Among its first was the sponsorship of a nationwide essay contest on the subject of "What the Statue of Liberty Means to Me." This contest, held at the request of the National Park Service, was part of the golden anniversary celebrations for the statue in 1936. The winner of the contest, Edna Falk of Pueblo, Colorado, was awarded the Auxiliary's gold medal and a trip to Paris provided by the Auxiliary, the Federation of French Veterans of the Great War, and a Paris newspaper. This essay contest was held yearly until 1964. To this date, the Auxiliary continues to hold annual birthday parties for the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island (formerly Bedloe's Island).
In 1956, one of the Auxiliary's Americanism projects again centered around the Statue of Liberty. That year, the Auxiliary became the first organization to pledge a substantial amount for the construction of a Museum of Immigration in the base of the statue. The Auxiliary delivered the final installment of its $50,000 pledge during the cornerstone-laying ceremonies in 1962.
Through its Americanism program, the Ladies Auxiliary has also supported other patriotic organizations. In 1961 and 1962, the Auxiliary funded construction of the Lucy Knox Evaluation Room at the Freedoms Foundations Center in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. In this room, juries choose prize-winning examples of Americanism for Freedoms Foundations awards each year. In 1980, the Auxiliary was itself honored by the Freedoms Foundations when it received the Principal Award for a non-profit publication.
Of course, not all the Auxiliary's Americanism activities are on
such a grand scale. Many programs are also carried out at the local level. Each year, for
example, local units present thousands of American flags to government units, youth
groups, schools, and churches. Units also teach proper care of the flag, distribute
Americanism literature, sponsor citizenship classes, and otherwise help keep the flame of
patriotism burning brightly.
© VFW 1998 . Created by Lynn - Last Updated 29 Dec 2001