World War II Navy veteran E. Roy Stone of South Carolina was among the most respected leaders of The American Legion for decades. A National Executive Committee member between 1953 and 2001, he held nearly every office in the organization, was a mentor and inspiration for many others. He was made a past national commander by vote of the national convention in 1987.
In the September 1994 75th anniversary issue of The American Legion, Stone’s “This We Believe” essay was published. And on Sept. 12, 1994, it was entered into the congressional record. An excerpt from that message was recently recorded, with video accompaniment, by South Carolina Past Department Adjutant Jimmy Hawk, as part of the Legion’s 100th anniversary commemoration. The video is downloadable for use at post meetings or to share on websites and social media. View the video here.
Rising to explain why he thought Stone’s words needed to be immortalized, U.S. Rep. G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery, D-Miss., chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, said: “In the state of South Carolina, E. Roy Stone is known as ‘Mr. Veteran.’ Few people know more about the mission of this great veterans organization than my good friend, E. Roy Stone. The article is such a good one … that I believe it should be given the widest possible circulation. The American Legion will continue to remain strong as long as it has members with the leadership qualities of men like the distinguished gentleman from South Carolina.”
Stone wrote, as an introduction to the essay, of his experience after the war and the reasons he joined The American Legion:
"When I returned to my home state of South Carolina after World War II, I went to our state's only veterans hospital and saw men being put in the hallways … the VA had a waiting list of over 800 GIs. Later, I went to the funerals of some of the men who were stored in the halls because VA didn't have the space to treat them.
"After seeing all of this, I became an active Legionnaire — determined that I would try to alleviate crowded conditions in our VA hospitals; give sympathy to the suffering; give strength to the weak; and to keep faith with my fallen friends.
"I was determined that their supreme sacrifice would not be in vain. And so I joined The American Legion, whose principles of right and wrong have become an integral part of the American way of life."
Stone’s essay will be republished in the December American Legion Magazine to conclude the centennial series.