La Société des Quarante Hommes et Huit Chevaux (The Society of Forty Men and Eight Horses), is an independent, invitation only, honor society of American veterans and service members; more commonly known as The Forty and Eight.
The Forty and Eight is committed to charitable and patriotic aims. Our purpose is to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, to promote the well-being of veterans, their widows, widowers and orphans, and to actively participate in selected charitable endeavors, which include programs that promote child welfare and nurses training.
The titles and symbols of The Forty and Eight are derived from the experiences of U.S. troops during World War I. Americans soldiers were transported to the front on the French rail system. Cramped into narrow gauge boxcars, each stenciled with “40 Hommes/8 Chevaux”, denoting its capacity to hold either 40 men or 8 horses. This uncomfortable mode of transportation was familiar common experience for every Doughboy that fought in the trenches; a mutual small misery among American soldiers. Thereafter, they found “40/8” a lighthearted symbol of the deeper service, unspoken horrors and shared sacrifice that bind all who have endured combat.
The Forty & Eight was founded in 1920 by American veterans returning from France. Originally an arm of The American Legion, the Forty & Eight became an independent and separately incorporated veteran's organization in 1960.
Membership is by invitation only of honorably discharged veterans and honorably serving members of the United States Armed Forces.