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This Is Why We Stand: Private Martin A. Treptow's Pledge


The name Martin Treptow might not jump off the pages of our textbooks, but his story is our story. During his first inaugural address, President Ronald Reagan told the tale of this anonymous soldier. In doing so, Reagan reminded us of the true makeup of America.

In 1917, Private Martin A. Treptow left his job at a barbershop in his small hometown of Cherokee, Iowa to enlist in the Army National Guard. On the eve of the First World War, Treptow was called into active duty. He soon found himself fighting in France on the Western Front with the 168th Infantry of the 42nd division.

Treptow was killed on the Western Front while trying to deliver a message between battalions under heavy artillery fire. On his body was found a diary and under the fly leaf was a page titled, My Pledge. In it, Treptow had written, "America must win this war. Therefore I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone." What compels a man to feel this way? To struggle so much against even his own personal interests at times? These are questions that only words like goodness, selflessness, duty, and country can answer. These are words that live in the hearts and minds of man and when awoken, create an unbreakable will. Private Treptow was no stranger to these words. He is the representation of what makes America and everything we have sacrificed for so very special.

Our history can be defined by men like Martin Treptow. He put pen to paper in writing his pledge, but the words that he believed in have also been honored by countless others. Like all of our fallen warriors, a part of Treptow lives on forever in the form of our flag. The flag is the embodiment men like him. Never ever forget that this is why we stand.

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