AUGUST 18, 1945
NEW YORK, Friday—The last two days of holiday I have been privileged to spend in New York City. I use the word privileged advisedly, for it has been a privilege to see joy on so many faces.
I don't think I have ever seen so many young people walking hand in hand up and down our city streets. Many of the men are still in uniform, but as I sat in a bus the other afternoon a young couple got in, both looking radiant. The man was in a new civilian suit, wearing his honorable discharge button, and they were laughing and chatting together in the way that indicates, not the forced gaiety that accompanies a man on leave when war is on, but the complete, natural abandon of happy children. It was good to see. And on the same day I saw a mother greet her son who, for the first time in nearly five years, was dressed in civilian clothes. I knew she felt a great thankfulness, since during that time he had flown almost continuously on dangerous missions.
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During a taxi ride, however, my driver seemed to be rather short of temper for such happy days. When a chance came I said: "This is a wonderful day; all of us must be happy!" He turned around and said: "It sure is. But I've still got a boy, a lieutenant in the air force, and I don't know yet if he is safe. I've got a son-in-law in the army and many nephews, so that there have been plenty of worries with us." The worries were evidently still uppermost, as they must remain for many, many people until we hear from the far ends of the world that V-J Day has really come on the islands in the Pacific and in the jungles of Burma.
Nevertheless, the atmosphere of our city has changed, and I am sure that is so of cities and villages all over the United States. The old troubles that accompany the daily round of living will be back with us all too soon. We will have to be reminding ourselves that the big trouble, the weight that has clamped on our hearts and kept our spirits down, has really been removed. We are not free from the accidents of death and disease and misfortune, and sorrow will be with us often, since that is the lot of man. But the war is over. We will not be engaged in the business of killing each other. Mass murder is ended, and we can rejoice.
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On Sunday we will go to our respective churches, or sit at home and listen to our radio services, or perhaps just read our prayer books and speak with our hearts our thanksgiving to God that this terrible period in the history of mankind is past.
Now, we turn to the ways of peace, and coupled with our prayer of thanksgiving I hope there will be a prayer that each one of us may do his full share to bring about the change in mankind and the world that must come in this new atomic era if we are not to destroy humanity. We cannot say any more, "if" we have peace, or "will it be possible to keep peace," since we know that unless we have peace there is no future possible for mankind.