Veteran of Foreign Wars
Hilliard Memorial VFW Post 4931
Cross of Malta
History shows that the Cross of Malta, the emblem of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, is 1,000 years old. Nearly
ten centuries ago the Maltese Cross was made the symbol of fighting men who were united by a solemn pledge of comradeship to fight
for freedom and to aid the sick and the needy. Those ancient obligations are still symbolized by the Cross of Malta today, for the
more than two million former servicemen who are the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The Cross of Malta is the symbol of their battles in
time of war and of their campaign to defend the God given rights of human beings in time of peace. The Cross of Malta symbolizes the
compassion, or sympathy, of those men and women for the needy. It is the sign of services which our contemporary veterans render to
help make living a little better for everyone.
To appreciate fully the original meaning of the Cross of Malta we must look back a thousand
years, to the Crusaders serving in the Middle East. There we find the Knights of St. John, the worlds first great brotherhood of warriors
pledged to chivalry. The Knights of St. John represented all walks of life. They were noblemen and priests, artisans and laborers.
Regardless of those differences, however, they were united by a solemn pledge of unwavering courage and compassion. Together they
fought against oppression. They carried their crusades far from home across deserts and seas, into the Holy Land, Cyprus, Rhodes and
Malta. At the same time they administered to the sick, the needy and to the poor. The Crusaders adopted the Cross of Malta as their
insignia because its eight points represented the eight Beatitudes prescribed in the Sermon on the Mount. Those, in effect, declare
(1) blessed are the poor in spirit
(2) the meek
(3) the pure
(4) the merciful
(5) the peacemakers
(6) blessed are they that mourn
(8) blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness sake
The Cross of Malta had a religious origin but the Knights of St. John also made it their battle standard for the liberation of all
men, women and children who suffered oppression. The ideals for which the original Crusaders fought parallel the principles of democracy
today, freedom and justice.
Centuries passed to the year 1899. Again fighting men banded together. Again they pledged themselves to
campaign for the rights of mankind and to administer to the sick, the needy and to the poor. That was the birth of a new organization,
known today as the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. Why did the Veterans of Foreign Wars select the Cross of Malta emblem?
What has been added to the Cross and what does the symbol mean? Let us look at the VFW ensign closely. We see the eight-pointed Maltese
Cross. Upon the Cross is superimposed the Great Seal of the United States, encircled by the name, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the
United States. Within the circle is the American eagle, the emblem of a proud nation whose warriors of many generations have fought
and sacrificed to preserve the free mans way of living. Between the four arms of the Cross, the Veterans of Foreign Wars has added
the suns rays to emphasize the vigor and warmth with which the present day brotherhood defends our ideals. Every detail in the VFW
emblem has definite meaning. The Cross, the rays and the seal together symbolize the vows, purpose and character of men and women
who have traveled far from home to defend humanity. The Veterans of Foreign Wars is the worlds oldest and largest overseas war veterans
organization. It is chartered by the Congress of the United States. That charter states specifically that The purpose of this corporation
shall be: Fraternal, Patriotic, Historical and Educational To preserve and Strengthen Comradeship among its members, To assist worthy
comrades, to perpetuate the memory and history of our dead, and to assist their widows and orphans. To maintain true allegiance to
the government of the United States of America and fidelity to its constitution and laws, to foster true patriotism, to maintain and
extend the institutions of American freedom, and to preserve and defend the United States from all her enemies whomsoever.
the Veterans of Foreign Wars, a person vows in the presence of Almighty God and the members of this order to maintain loyalty to the
government, to the VFW, and to his fellow comrades. When the Cross of Malta is bestowed upon a new VFW member, he or she is pledged
to advance the principles of the organization. Like the original Crusaders 1,000 years ago, the 2.1 million members of the Veterans
of Foreign Wars today fulfill their vows through a wide variety of vigorously executed services. The VFW is also joined by 750,000
members of our Ladies Auxiliary in our efforts. They foster true patriotism, and strengthen the institutions of freedom by word and
deed. They improve their cities, towns and neighborhoods through community service. They give aid to worthy comrades and to the widows
and orphans. They extend helping hands to the needy and the sick. Like the original Knights of St. John, those who wear the VFW Maltese
Cross express their comradeship in terms of service.
These are the reasons why the Veterans of Foreign Wars chose the Cross of Malta
as its emblem. The Cross of Malta symbolizes truly the character and objectives of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.
People qualified through military service to wear the VFW Cross of Malta do so with pride because that emblem represents the highest
of ideals. Every member has earned the Cross of Malta proudly - and he or she wears it proudly.