MAY 30, 1958
HYDE PARK—We are back at Memorial Day and again face a troubled world in which, although there are no large-scale nuclear wars, many small wars are going on between people, often of the same country. Men and women are dying, just as they have died before in many wars.
The lesson of Memorial Day is, of course, to remind us that over the past years—in fact, throughout man's existence—he has died to preserve the things he cared about.
We have a chance today, because of the new discoveries of science, to improve the lives of human beings. We are nearer to the time when all human beings can learn about better sanitation, better health, more leisure, more education and recreation, but this achievement depends greatly on how well we learn to live together and to live for our countries instead of dying for them.
The Soviets will have to decide, if we are to have a peaceful world, that they are willing to live within the area that is now Communist. There will be no peace if they continue to strive to turn the whole world into a Communist world.
True, even if the Soviets and areas of the non-Communist world do not struggle to bring people to their political and economic beliefs, there will be changes. People will observe what happens in these two areas of the world and they will often decide to try one system or the other. Perhaps they will change more than once.
The essential thing is that they do it without pressure and only because of their observation and the persuasion we are able to exert through example and peaceful propaganda.
Today the Soviets are afraid to let their citizens travel through our country or become friendly with our people. Though we do not say so, I am sure that if too many of our visitors to Russia come back with glowing accounts of Soviet accomplishments there would be a distinct effort here to prevent too many from going to the Soviet Union.
Both of us must gain in confidence, allowing people to judge for themselves and make their own decisions, with the confidence that in the long run these decisions will be wise.
Last week the President made a move towards peace, urging the Soviets to join in relaxing travel curbs. If this could be done, it would be a valuable first step and we could feel that on this Memorial Day we really had made some tangible gains in achieving the peace to which today we dedicate ourselves.
Just to honor the dead is not enough. Each day should make us look back to what we have accomplished in preventing more deaths through war and look forward to more efforts to create an atmosphere throughout the world which will build peace.
It seems almost foolish to write about peace when there is so much world turmoil, but objectives must be kept in mind in spite of the difficulties facing us in the future. If we are always ready to move forward and to seize every opportunity that comes to hand, I think we will be learning the lesson of Memorial Day and making it one of the most meaningful celebrations of any day in the year.