Martin A. Treptow – Private, United States Army

Ronald Reagan's First Inaugural Address On January 20, 1981:

Each one of those markers (At Arlington National Cemetery) is a monument to the kinds of hero I spoke of earlier. Their lives ended in places called Belleau Wood, The Argonne, Omaha Beach, Salerno and halfway around the world on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Pork Chop Hill, the Chosin Reservoir, and in a hundred rice paddies and jungles of a place called Vietnam.

Under one such marker lies a young man—Martin Treptow—who left his job in a small town barber shop in 1917 to go to France with the famed Rainbow Division. There, on the western front, he was killed trying to carry a message between battalions under heavy artillery fire.

We are told that on his body was found a diary. On the flyleaf under the heading, “My Pledge,” he had written these words: “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.”

The crisis we are facing today does not require of us the kind of sacrifice that Martin Treptow and so many thousands of others were called upon to make. It does require, however, our best effort, and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds; to believe that together, with God's help, we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us.

And, after all, why shouldn't we believe that? We are Americans. God bless you, and thank you.

During the first World War, a young man – a barber in peacetime – enlisted in the Iowa National Guard. Soon he found himself part of the 168th Infantry of the 42nd Division, the Rainbow Division. Along with the 168th Regiment, were the 165th, formerly the 69th New York; the 166th, originally the 4th Ohio, and the 167th, the renumbered 4th Alabama. Ironically, during the Civil War, the 69th New York and 4th Alabama had fought each other at Bull Run and Fredericksburg. By virtue of its makeup, with soldiers from all sections of the country, this division was dubbed the Rainbow Division.In July of 1918, the 42nd was committed to battle against the Germans to reduce the Marne Salient. In spite of withering machine gun fire and heavy artillery bombardment, the 168th Infantry took their objective.

As the battle drew to an end, a messenger was needed to deliver an important word to one of the platoons. Private Martin A. Treptow, barber turned warrior, grabbed the message and moved out under fire. As he reached the platoon leader, Treptow was shot down by a hail of bullets. Later, in policing up Treptow’s personnel effects, a diary was found in the blood-stained blouse of this doughboy. Written in Treptow’s own hands were the words entitled, My Pledge, words that serve as a memorial to the price he paid. “America shall win the 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 whole issue of the struggle depended on my alone.”

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