SEPTEMBER 23, 1946
HYDE PARK, Sunday—Into my hands recently has come the script of a radio program that was written for the personnel at an army airfield soon after the news of President Roosevelt's death. The author, Paul Lovett, will forgive me, I am sure, if I quote a few words from his script.
In the fevered dreams of a wounded soldier who has come very near to death, Saint Peter speaks of the monument which the boy's commander-in-chief, who has just arrived in heaven, would like to have on earth. Says St. Peter: "...But down deep it is not some pyramid or monument towering in the sky which he wants the most, but rather a living memorial. One that would live in the hearts of all Americans. A light of understanding of the ideals for which he lived and died. One that must be eternally cared for and cherished by each and every American."
The Boy: "A living memorial, not just something to look at. It means a job for every one of us to keep that light burning. Well,...We always did love a good job and he can depend that we'll handle this one right."
In the controversies, disappointments, shortcomings and achievements of human beings, to keep a light burning in the world is no easy job. I do not think there is any question today of being for one individual or another, though every one of us most form his own opinions as to the achievements of our public servants and their objectives by reading what they say and weighing their accomplishments.
The people of this world want peace. Sometimes I wonder whether the governments tell the people clearly enough what are their objectives and how they wish to accomplish them. It is therefore a good thing, I think, when men speak out their minds; and the nations of the world must know quite well by now that in this country of ours free speech is a cherished freedom. When policies are criticized by good men, it is done only because they want to see us, as a nation, achieve greater and better objectives.
Secretary Wallace's statement on being retired from the Cabinet was a fine statement. But individuals matter little except as their characters emerge through their actions and give the people inspiration and standards by which to judge their own actions.
It will be well for us as a people to look over all that has happened during the year since the war came to an end. We cannot escape our responsibilities as citizens of a democracy. What have we, as a people, achieved at home and in the family of nations?
My own feeling is that we might have stood more firmly for the freedom of small peoples and for a more humanitarian attitude in the world as a whole. Every nation agreed to certain principles in the Atlantic Charter and we should all be held to our agreements, for they were the agreements made at a moment of high idealism.
We may have made mistakes. If so, there is only one remedy, and that is to wipe the slate clean and start over again. Perhaps the crisis in the world today requires the top people to meet together with new advisers. Our foreign policy must be strong, but it must be right. What is right must be a joint decision of the three great powers that won the war, for together they must go forward to create a world at peace. Otherwise we drift to war and death.