JULY 7, 1947
HYDE PARK, Sunday—Many things have been written that are designed to give us who are living on this earth a different attitude toward what we call death. One of the most famous books of this kind is, I suppose, Maeterlinck's "The Bluebird." Since the last war there must be thousands of men and women, young and old, who have fought with themselves over this very question of the nature of death.
For oneself, it is a fairly simple problem to resolve to make up your mind as to what you believe and go ahead on the assumption that it is true—or, if it isn't true, that it won't matter a great deal. It is quite a different thing, however, when death takes hundreds of thousands of the young people we had counted on to carry on in some way the work which we ourselves might be laying down.
The problem was brought home to me recently when I had the opportunity to read a short play called "Assembly Call," by Jack Preston, a West Coast newspaper man. The play is dedicated to the author's son, Charles, a lieutenant pilot in the USA Air Forces who was lost on August 26, 1942, and bears the familiar quotation from Shelley:
He is secure and now can never mourn;
He lives! He wakes!—'Tis death is dead, not he!
Weep not for Adonais, thou young dawn!"
I think anyone whose boy went out never to return will find some comfort in the way this young pilot's father and mother met the loss of their only son. After his passing, they realized that their role must be to help him while they are here on earth by finding something worthy of their own mettle to accomplish. They took off their mourning and started to work with the youth of this generation. They understood young people and knew that they could give them something which had meaning, just as they had been able to build a real relationship with their son. They suffered at the start, but they pulled themselves together to go forward in their work.
I don't know that the thinking of modern young people conforms to any one particular denomination of preaching, but there is a religious battle cryin this short play which ought to have a special appeal to the young. Many of the scenes and the lines will help us to live better lives.