NOVEMBER 13, 1946
NEW YORK, Tuesday—I did not write about Armistice Day yesterday because I had a curious feeling that I had to stop and think through what this day really should mean to all of us. When the armistice came at the end of the first World War, I was still youngish and I remember the wild elation at the thought that all of the soldiers would soon be home, and above all, I remember the determination of the younger people that the war just won should really be "a war to end war."
Year by year since then, we have observed Armistice Day, but its real meaning gradually faded away. Some of the young people used it as a day for demonstration against war, but these youngsters were sometimes used by extremist groups. Their natural desire for peace forced them into exaggerated stands which often brought them into disrepute with people who felt they should have had older heads on young shoulders!
The fact remains, however, that we became so apathetic and so indifferent to what was happening in the world, that World War II marched steadily toward us and we did nothing to prevent it. When some of our statesmen saw that it was inevitable, they bent every effort to make the absolutely necessary preparations for defense, but even then, there was no recognition in the country of what World War II would mean.
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Now we have come to the end of World War II. Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7th, the day of the sneak Japanese attack which brought us to our lowest ebb in our Pacific defenses, has become an easier date to remember than V-J Day, the date of the final collapse of Japan. Supposedly, when we celebrate Armistice Day now, we think of both these wars and of the great loss of young lives, not only in this country but in many others. We remember that we have again reached an armistice but that we still have no peace. Even among our youth, there is none of the assurance that was prevalent after the first World War that we are on our way to permanent peace.
In the United Nations, we have set up the machinery for creating a climate in the world in which peace can grow. However, just as I have sensed for many years that Armistice Day did not have the meaning for the mass of our people that it should have if we were going to preserve peace, so I feel now that this is not yet a day on which we dedicate ourselves to living and working along the lines which will make peace possible throughout the world.
Some people had a holiday on Monday, the 11th of November. But how many people actually stopped for two minutes at 11 a.m. and thought of what they should do to prevent future wars? As a country, our unwillingness to pay the price for peace comes up in one thing after another, day by day. Let's stop and add up the price of peace!