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  • Extremely American

Memorial Day honored through the words of President Regan & WW1 Hero Martin Treptow

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Memorial Day 2022 takes place every Monday, May 30.

Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.

Martin Treptow Biography:

Martin August Treptow was born on 19 January 1894 on a farm in the town of Eagle Point, WI. He grew to manhood in that community and, in the summer of 1917, was working as a barber in a small shop in the town of Cherokee, IA.

World War I was in progress and when the call went out for volunteers, Martin enlisted in the Army on 15 July 1917, in Cherokee. He and his regiment landed in France in the early part of December 1917.

On 29 July 1918, Private Martin August Treptow was serving on the Western Front with Company M, 168th Infantry, 84th Brigade, 42nd Division, known as the famed ‘Rainbow Division.’ The Rainbow Division had been in the thickest of the fight and the battle in which they were engaged that day, Chateau Thierry, would end up being recorded in history as one of the most important of WWI.

On the day that the Yanks went across the river and up the hill, a messenger was needed to deliver an important message to one of the company's platoons. In spite of heavy machine gun fire and artillery bombardment from the enemy, Private Martin Treptow, then 24 years of age, volunteered and grabbed the message and ran out under fire. As he was nearing the platoon leader, Treptow was killed by a hail of machinegun fire.

Later, in the pocket of his blouse, they found his diary. On the first page, under the heading ‘My Pledge’ he had subscribed his name and written something that many others in his company would eventually copy into their diaries. These were his 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 pledge became known as the ‘Treptow Pledge’ after an Iowa Congressman had it included in the Congressional Record.


On Tuesday, 20 January 1981, near the end of his first Inaugural Speech, President Ronald Reagan told the story of Martin August Treptow during a moving tribute to the heroes buried beneath the white markers of the graves in Arlington National Cemetery. [Treptow is not actually buried at Arlington.]

Concluding his speech, Reagan said:

“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 believe in our capacity to perform great deeds, to believe that together and with God’s help we can and will resolve the problems which confront us.

And, after all, why shouldn’t we believe that? We are Americans.”

Treptow's heroics were also mentioned in Franklin D. Roosevelt's inaugural address.

Source: The Military Hall of Honor


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