This amazing speech was delivered during an ns am one American Day gathering in brand-new York"s main Park by Harold Ickes, chairman Franklin Roosevelt"s Secretary the the Interior. It came at a perilous moment in history, may of 1941, as soon as Adolf Hitler and also the Nazis seemed headed toward possible world domination.
By this time, countries that had actually fallen come the Nazis had Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Norway, Denmark, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and also areas in north Africa. Airfields and also cities in England were currently under ferocious air attack from the German Luftwaffe if wolf-packs the Nazi U-boats attempted to blockade the brother Isles.
Many Americans, however, still doubted the wisdom and necessity of straight U.S. Joining in the europe war. Pacifist emotion was stability growing, while in ~ the same time Fascism was occasionally referred to together the "wave of the future" by respect Americans, buoyed in part by the ceaseless barrage of highly effective anti-democratic propaganda emanating from the Fascist countries of Europe including Germany.
In this speech, Harold Ickes counters the propaganda, defines what it method to it is in a free American, and offers a blunt assessment of the perilous future the United says would challenge standing alone versus a victorious Hitler.
I desire to asking a few simple questions. And also then i shall price them.What has happened to our vaunted idealism? Why have actually some of united state beenbehaving favor scared chickens? wherein is the million-throated, democraticvoice that America? because that years it has actually been dinned into us the we are a weak nation; thatwe room an inefficient people; that we are simple-minded. Because that years we havebeen told the we room beaten, decayed, and also that no component of the people belongsto us any longer.Some among us have fallen for this very closely pickled tripe. Someamongst us have actually fallen for this calculate poison. Some amongst us havebegun to preach the the "wave the the future" has passed overus and also left us a wet, dead fish. Castle shout--from public communication in published pages, v the microphones--thatit is futile to protest the "wave the the future." they cry thatwe Americans, we complimentary Americans nourished on Magna Carta and also the Declarationof Independence, host moth-eaten ideas. Lock exclaim the there is no roomfor free men in the civilization any much more and that only the slaves will inheritthe earth. America--the America of Washington and also Jefferson and Lincolnand Walt Whitman--they say, is wait for the undertaker and all the hopesand aspirations that have gone into the making of America space dead too.However, my fellow citizens, this is no the real point of the story.The real point--the shameful point--is that countless of us space listening tothem and some that us virtually believe them. I say that it is time because that the good American human being to advanced itsvoice and cry out in mighty triumph what the is to be an American. And also whyit is that only Americans, through the help of our brave allies--yes, let"scall them "allies"--the British, can and will develop the onlyfuture precious having. I median a future, no of concentration camps, not ofphysical torture and mental straitjackets, not of sawdust bread or the sawdustCaesars--I median a future when free men will certainly live cost-free lives in dignityand in security. This birds of the future, the democratic future, is ours. The is oursif we present ourselves worthy the our society and of our heritage. But make no mistake around it; the tide of the autonomous future isnot choose the s tide--regular, relentless, and inevitable. Nothing inhuman affairs is mechanical or inevitable. Nor room Americans mechanical.They are really human indeed. What constitutes an American? Not color nor race nor religion. Notthe pedigree the his household nor the place of his birth. No the coincidenceof his citizenship. Not his social standing nor his financial institution account. No histrade no one his profession. An American is one that loves justice and also believesin the dignity the man. An American is one that will fight for his freedomand that of his neighbor. One American is one who will sacrifice property,ease and security in order that he and his kids may maintain the rightsof totally free men. One American is one in whose heart is engraved the immortalsecond sentence the the statements of Independence. American have always known just how to hit for your rights and theirway that life. Americans are not fear to fight. They hit joyously ina just cause. We Americans know that freedom, favor peace, is indivisible. We cannotretain our liberty if three-fourths of the world is enslaved. Brutality,injustice and also slavery, if practiced as dictators would have them, universallyand systematically, in the lengthy run would damage us together surely as a fireraging in our adjacent neighbor"s residence would burn ours if we didn"t helpto placed out his. If we space to retain our very own freedom, we should do every little thing withinour power to assist Britain. We must likewise do every little thing to restore to theconquered individuals their freedom. This method the Germans too. Such a program, if you avoid to think, is selfishness on our part.It is the type of enlightened selfishness that renders the wheels of historygo around. That is the sort of enlightened selfishness that wins victories.Do you understand why? due to the fact that we can not live in the people alone, withoutfriends and without allies. If Britain have to be defeated, then the totalitarianundertaker will prepare to hang crepe top top the door of our very own independence.Perhaps you wonder how this could come about? maybe you have actually heard"them"--the wavers that the future--cry, through calculated malice,that also if britain were defeated we could live alone and also defend ourselvessingle handed, even against the whole world. I tell you that this is a cold blooded lie. We would be alone in the world, facing an unscrupulous military-economicbloc that would certainly dominate every one of Europe, every one of Africa, most of Asia, andperhaps also Russia and also South America. Also to do that, we would have tospend most of ours national revenue on tanks and also guns and planes and also ships.Nor would this it is in all. Us would need to live perpetually as an armed camp,maintaining a large standing army, a gigantic air force, two huge navies.And we can not perform this there is no endangering ours freedom, ours democracy,our way of life. Perhaps such is the America "they"--the wavers that the future--foresee.Perhaps such is the America that a specific aviator, v his contempt fordemocracy, would certainly prefer. Maybe such is the America that a specific Senatordesires. Possibly such is the America that a details mail stimulate executivelongs for. But a forever militarized, isolated and impoverished Americais not the America the our fathers came below to build. That is not the America that has actually been the dream and the hope of countlessgenerations in all parts of the world. That is not the America that one hundred and thirty million of us wouldcare come live in. The ongoing security of our nation demands the we help the enslavedmillions the Europe--yes, also of Germany--to win ago their liberty andindependence. Ns am persuaded that if we execute not embark upon together a programwe will shed our own freedom. We should be clear on this point. What is convulsing the human being todayis not merely an additional old-fashioned war. It is a counter revolution againstour ideas and also ideals, against our sense of justice and our human being values.Three equipment today compete for world domination. Communism, fascism,and democracy room struggling because that social-economic-political human being control.As the problem sharpens, it becomes clear the the other two, fascismand communism, space merging right into one. They have actually one typical enemy, democracy.They have actually one common goal, the damage of democracy. This is why this war is no an ordinary war. That is not a conflictfor sectors or territories. That is a desperate battle for the possessionof the souls of men. This is why the British space not fighting for themselves alone. Theyare fighting to preserve freedom for mankind. For the moment, the battlegroundis the brothers Isles. But they are fighting our war; they room the firstsoldiers in trenches that are likewise our front-line trenches. In this human being war of ideas and of loyalties us believers in democracymust do two things. We must unite our pressures to type one great democraticinternational. We have to offer a clear routine to freedom-loving peoplesthroughout the world. Freedom-loving men and also women in every land must organize and tightentheir ranks. The masses almost everywhere must be helped to fight your oppressorsand conquerors. We, free, democratic Americans space in a place to help. We knowthat the soul of freedom never dies. We know that males have fought andbled because that freedom because time immemorial. We realize that the liberty-lovingGerman civilization are only temporarily enslaved. We do not doubt that the Italianpeople room looking forward to the illustration of one more Garibaldi. Us knowhow the Poles have for centuries preserved a heroic resistance againsttyranny. Us remember the brave struggle of the Hungarians under Kossuthand other leaders. Us recall the heroic figure of Masaryk and the gallantfight for freedom of the Czech people. The story that the Yugoslavs", especiallythe Serbs" blows for liberty and independence is a saga that extraordinaryheroism. The Greeks will stand again in ~ Thermopylae, together they have in thepast. The annals of ours American sister-republics, too, room glorious withfreedom-inspiring exploits. The noble figure of Simon Bolivar, the greatSouth American liberator, has naturally been compared with that of GeorgeWashington. No, liberty never dies. The Genghis Khans come and go. The Attilascome and also go. The Hitlers flash and also sputter out. However freedom endures. Ruin a entirety generation of those who have known just how to go withheads erect in God"s totally free air, and the next generation will increase againstthe oppressors and also restore freedom. This day in Europe, the Nazi Attila maygloat the he has damaged democracy. That is wrong. In small farmhousesall over central Europe, in the shops the Germany and Italy, on the docksof Holland and also Belgium, freedom still stays in the hearts of men. That willendure like a continuous tree gotten in the wintertime, awaiting the spring.And, favor spring, spreading from the South right into Scandinavia, thedemocratic revolution will come. And also men with autonomous hearts will experiencecomradeship throughout artificial boundaries. This men and women, hundreds of millions the them, currently in bondageor threatened with slavery, space our comrades and our allies. They are onlywaiting because that our leadership and also our encouragement, for the spark that wecan supply. These hundreds of millions, of liberty-loving people, currently oppressed,constitute the biggest sixth pillar in history. They have the will todestroy the Nazi gangsters. Us have always helped in battles for person freedom. And we willhelp again. However our numerous millions of liberty-loving allies woulddespair if us did not administer aid and encouragement. The faster we helpthem the sooner this dreadful change will be over. We cannot, us mustnot, we challenge not hold-up much longer. The fight for Britain is in its vital stages. Us must give theBritish every little thing we have. And also by everything, i mean every little thing neededto beat the life the end of our usual enemy. The second step need to be to help and encourage our friends and also allieseverywhere. And by all over I median Europe and also Asia and also Africa and America.And finally, the most crucial of all, we Americans have to gird spirituallyfor the battle. We need to dispel the fog the uncertainty and also vacillation.We have to greet with raucous laughter the corroding debates of our appeasersand fascists. Castle doubt democracy. Us affirm it triumphantly so the allthe people may hear: right here in America we have actually something so precious living for the it isworth dying for! The so-called "wave of the future" is but theslimy backwash the the past. We have not heaved from our necks the tyrant"scrushing heel, just to stretch our necks the end again because that its weight. Notonly will we fight for democracy, we will make it more worth fighting for.Under our totally free institutions, us will occupational for the good of mankind, includingHitler"s victims in Germany, so that all may have actually plenty and security.We American democrats know that when great will prevails amongst menthere will certainly be a world of plenty and also a world of security. In the indigenous of Winston Churchill, "Are we downhearted,"No, we arc not! however someone is downhearted! witness the terrified flightof Hess, Hitler"s Number 3 Man. And also listen come this--listen carefully:"The British nation can be counted top top to bring through tovictory any kind of struggle the it as soon as enters top top no matter just how long such astruggle might last or however good the sacrifices that might be necessaryor every little thing the means that need to be employed; and all this also thoughthe actual military equipment available may it is in utterly poor when comparedwith the of other nations." perform you understand who wrote that? Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf. And also do youknow that took under that dictation? Rudolf Hess. We will help to make Hitler"s prophecy come true. Us will assist braveEngland drive earlier the hordes native Hell who besiege her and also then we willjoin because that the destruction of savage and also blood-thirsty dictators everywhere.But we need to be firm and also decisive. We must know our will and also make it felt.And we should hurry. Harold Ickes - may 18, 1941