Published on Sep 13, 2013
“Address of the president, the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Statler Hotel, Washington D.C., 16 April 1953.”
ASNE Pres. Bryan Wright (Atlanta Journal)
“And now members of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, and guests, I have the honor of presenting to you the president of the united states.”
“President Bryan, distinguished guests of this association, and ladies and gentlemen. I am happy to be here. I say this and I mean it very sincerely, for a number of reasons – not the least of these is the number of friends I am honored to count among you. Over the years, we’ve seen, talked, agreed and argued, with one another, on a vast variety of subjects – under circumstances no less varied. We’ve met at home and in distant lands. We’ve been together at times when war seemed endless, at times when peace seemed near, at times when peace seemed to have eluded us again. We’ve met in times of battle both military, and electoral, and all these occasions, mean to me, memories of enduring friendships. I am happy to be here for another reason. This occasion calls for my first formal address to the American people, since assuming the office of the presidency just 12 weeks ago. It is fitting, I think, that I speak to you, the editors of America. You are, in such a vital way, both representatives of and responsible to the people of our country. In great part upon you, upon your intelligence, your integrity, your devotion to the ideals of freedom and justice themselves, depend the understanding and the knowledge, with which our people must meet the facts of 20th century life. Without such understanding and knowledge, our people would be incapable of promoting justice, without them, they would be incapable of defending freedom. Finally, I am happy to be here at this time, before this audience, because I must speak of that issue, that comes first of all, in the hearts and minds of all of us. That issue which most urgently challenges and summons the wisdom and the courage of our whole people. This issue is peace.
IN THIS SPRING of 1953 the free world weighs one question above all others: the chance for a just peace for all peoples.
To weigh this chance is to summon instantly to mind another recent moment of great decision. It came with that yet more hopeful spring of 1945, bright with the promise of victory and of freedom. The hope of all just men in that moment too was a just and lasting peace.
The 8 years that have passed have seen that hope waver, grow dim, and almost die. And the shadow of fear again has darkly lengthened across the world.
Today the hope of free men remains stubborn and brave, but it is sternly disciplined by experience. It shuns not only all crude counsel of despair but also the self-deceit of easy illusion.
It weighs the chance for peace with sure, clear knowledge of what happened to the vain hope of 1945.
In that spring of victory the soldiers of the Western Allies met the soldiers of Russia in the center of Europe. They were triumphant comrades in arms. Their peoples shared the joyous prospect of building, in honor of their dead, the only fitting monument-an age of just peace. All these war-weary peoples shared too this concrete, decent purpose: to guard vigilantly against the domination ever again of any part of the world by a single, unbridled aggressive power.
This common purpose lasted an instant and perished. The nations of the world divided to follow two distinct roads.
The United States and our valued friends, the other free nations, chose one road.
The leaders of the Soviet Union chose another.
The way chosen by the United States was plainly marked by a few clear precepts, which govern its conduct in world affairs.
First: No people on earth can be held, as a people, to be an enemy, for all humanity shares the common hunger for peace and fellowship and justice.
Second: No nation’s security and well-being can be lastingly achieved in isolation but only in
effective cooperation with fellow nations.
Third: Every nation’s right to a form of government and an economic system of its own choosing is inalienable.
Fourth: Any nation’s attempt to dictate to other nations their form of government is indefensible.
And fifth: A nation’s hope of lasting peace cannot be firmly based upon any race in armaments but rather upon just relations and honest understanding with all other nations.
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