SEPTEMBER 25, 1945
HYDE PARK, Monday—No one will begrudge Secretary Stimson his well-earned rest. He has had a long and very remarkable career in public service, and the nation owes him a great debt of gratitude. He must often have wanted, in the past few years, to remind people of his efforts to awaken Great Britain and ourselves to the menace of the Japanese when they first entered Manchuria. He is a farsighted statesman who gave unstintingly of his time and ability to the nation, but I think his service through this last war was his most remarkable achievement. He was young in spirit and kept in touch with what the men were going through, and I doubt if many people even thought he was demanding a great deal of himself at an age when most men would have felt themselves entitled to retire and claim immunity to further work. Our gratitude is due to both Secretary and Mrs. Stimson.
His able assistant, Secretary Robert P. Patterson, is well suited to follow in his footsteps and will give the same unselfish service to his country.
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I have been somewhat disturbed lately to read statements in the public press by members of Congress and military officers which seem to assume that the atomic bomb is a secret that can be kept by this nation, if we so desire. The scientists who worked on the discovery, and who should know more about it than anyone else, insist that it is no secret. No scientific discovery can long remain secret when the fundamental principles involved are so widely known; and in this particular case, the fundamental principles of atomic energy and its release were widely known even before the particular developments for this project were undertaken. The technical and engineering details will soon be discovered by other scientists in other lands.
It seems to me that this discovery has made imperative an educational undertaking in every country in the world. Every man, every woman—everywhere—must grow up knowing that since this discovery of how to use atomic energy for destruction, annihilation faces them unless they learn to live in a peaceful world and to allow the policing of the world to be done by an international security agency.
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The sovereignty which each nation will have to renounce is not too high a price to pay for the continuation of our civilization. Almost every country in the world has the needed raw materials for the manufacture of these bombs, and the little countries can do it as well as the big ones. All that is needed, to destroy, is to act first. Are we going to live in constant dread of all our neighbors? Except for the completely happy-go-lucky person, able to wipe out all thought of the future, no one could go to bed at night with any sense of security. Once a weapon is discovered, it will always be used by those who are in desperate straits.
The day we found the secret of the atomic bomb, we closed one phase of civilization and entered upon another.