DECEMBER 25, 1948
NEW YORK, Friday —Christmas Eve again! Tonight at midnight, or thereabouts, many thousands of people throughout our own country and in many other countries of the world will celebrate Christmas as a religious festival and will go to a midnight service.
They will pray for peace and goodwill among nations.
In the hearts of many who have experienced war at close range, the prayer will be a more agonized prayer than it will be for us in this country. Nevertheless, even for us it should be a very fervent prayer, since peace and goodwill alone will allow us to help the rest of the world toward a return to stability and security.
In some countries this is just a pagan celebration tied up in men's minds with the time of the year when you reach the darkest days and, having reached them, begin to turn again toward the light. That is why in the far northern countries one of the customs is to put a light in every window to remind people that we are again turning our faces towards the longer and brighter days of the summer season.
Even in those countries, however, there has come a knowledge of the religious significance of the Christmas story which is told to children in so many other countries of the world. The fact that a Child was born in the faraway Holy Land in the manger of a lowly stable, in the little town of Bethlehem, and that Child came to preach a doctrine of love and peace which has gradually spread the world over, is not ignored now anywhere.
To us, in Christian countries, however, the season has a special significance. We have many reasons for trying to make it a season of spiritual rejuvenation for us all. All over the world love is needed to help us solve the difficult problems that man must face after a period of hate that has brought destruction and suffering to such a vast number of human beings.
At this Christmas time in 1948 it behooves each one of us to take a little mental trip throughout the world to see what has happened to the peoples of the world in the past year. We should rejoice with those who have taken steps forward, recognize everywhere the advances that have been made, but check very carefully the work that still needs to be done. We must devote ourselves in the coming year to making our individual efforts and our country's efforts reach the maximum of influence for good in this difficult moment of the world's history.
Our country is made up of people of many backgrounds and many customs. They have brought these ways of life from many countries. But as a whole nation, whatever our religion, whatever our background, we, as Americans, want our nation to play a useful role in bringing greater happiness to this very troubled world.
MAY the Christmas season call us all to a remembrance of our position of leadership, and, as the happiness and love of the season permeates our hearts, let this leadership flow out through us into channels of usefulness that will reach the ends of the earth.