130,000,000 Free People Working in Unison


By JOSEPH W. MARTIN, JR., of Massachusetts, Republican Leader of the House of Representatives and Chairman of the Republican National Committee

Over the National Radio Forum, National Broadcasting Company, January 12, 1942

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. VIII, pp. 247-249.

A STRONG unity now binds the men and women of this nation of every race, color, religious and political belief into one resistless on-sweeping determination. We all have in this hour one supreme, deep, unshakable purpose —America shall be preserved; civilization shall be saved.

Some believed ease and luxury had softened the fiber of America. We now know that is not so. When the Japanese, in the very moment they were professing peace, so treacherously and savagely struck at Pearl Harbor, and the Philippines, Midway, Wake and Guam, they did something else. They struck the spark which lighted the temper of America. They delivered the blows which swept all indecision from our plans. The white heat of righteous anger generated by those treacherous assaults perpetrated under the cover of peaceful negotiations, has welded the hearts and minds of all Americans into one overpowering purpose to stamp out completely, and for all time, brute force as a domineering, aggressive power, and to restore right as the ruling force of this world. The integrity and the safety of America are now at issue. The honor, the liberty, the ideals which make life in America beautiful and worthwhile are under assault in this hour. It will be no easy job to defend all those things we hold dear; perhaps long years of hardship, privation, suffering, grief and toil may lie ahead of us. There will be a great measure of blood, sweat and tears for us, too. But our integrity, our honor, our liberty, our form of government, and our way of life shall stand unimpaired, however hard shall be the task of keeping them secure, of protecting them against being trampled under the ruthless heel of any aggressor.

Events have taken place which will forever remain black blots in the annals of man's climb from savagery to civilization. But the very acts which have so blackened the annals of man have brought about other developments which will forever illumine the pages of history which record the most worthy and inspiring deeds of men.

We have been a peace-loving people here in America. We have been a long-suffering people here in America. We have been a people slow to anger here in America. But we are now one utterly determined, one completely united people—united in a high resolve—the unsparing defense of our nation, our way of life, our ideals of civilization and human progress.

The American people had prayed for peace. They had sought in every way to stay out of war. But let no man in this world mistake the situation today. We are united in our support of our government, the President, who is the Commander-in-Chief of our armed forces, and we rally to the battle to uphold the highest ideals and the best motives of men. The job of ending for all time the threat of ignorant, brutish, savage, ruthless power has been thrust upon us. God helping us, we will do the job this time so it will never have to be done again.

My fellow citizens, the task which confronts us demands vastly more than resounding phrases, catchy slogans, and fierce war cries. A job of a million hard, tiring, unspectacular details must be done. We do not know how far into the future it may stretch ahead of us. It is going to be a tough job, but it is going to be done.

Our defense is not simply a matter of marching troops, colorful uniforms, glinting arms, blaring bands and waving flags. This war is being fought and must be fought in textile mills, in shipyards, in foundries and steel mills, in machine shops and mines, on the farms and in the fields, as well as on the seas, over the seas, and under the seas. It is a war of chemists, machinists, of every character of artisan, as well as of military and naval forces. In the wars of former times, the naval and military establishments were the arsenals. In this war every factory and every field of America is the arsenal. Every man and every woman who can lend a single effort to the sum total of this complete war is in the ranks of the fighters now. Every man and every woman is called upon to help defend the nation. Not only must we each contribute our share of arduous labor and unhappy sacrifice butwe must each do our part to maintain the moral stamina and the unwavering courage of every individual, young and old, in order to contribute to the victory which must and will be ours.

You know and I know tonight that more than one hundred and thirty million free people working in unison for a common, high purpose are an invincible power. Millions of men will be fighting under arms for the country; other millions will engage in the equally important task of production; still other millions will be busy helping to preserve the morale and spirit of the nation. Make no mistake, each task is just as essential in its way as the others. The American people have always had great pride and confidence in their men who have defended the nation in clashes of arms. They are our first line of action. That confidence and pride will again be fully justified in the months or years ahead. Already tales of heroism in the spirit of our finest, most cherished traditions, are coming back to us from the outposts. In the midst of sudden, stunning assault, our officers and men rose to heights of magnificent courage. Who can ever forget Pearl Harbor, the Philippines, Midway, Wake and Guam?

Already some of the best and bravest of our young American boys have laid down their lives for their country. In common with the rest of my countrymen, I do not like to think of the toll this war will take. The resolution of every American for 1942, and for as long as this war shall last, by every rule of fair play and human decency, must be: Let those who stay and work at home back up with every energy of their being the boys who will do the fighting and the dying for our beloved country.

Labor and valor are united in modern warfare. Production is just as necessary as execution.

The smear of grease can be just as truly the badge of honor as can the smudge of powder.

Behind the heroic fighting forces on the battle front must be heroic, sweating, toiling forces of factory, mine and field.

"Remember Pearl Harbor" will be the battle cry of the American people to the end of this war. It will be echoed and re-echoed in the days to come. And our enemies will have cause to remember and to remember with regret Pearl Harbor. An aroused American people who had prayed for peace are now determined deep in their souls to defeat an arrogant, brutal foe. This war will go on until the infamy of the act which spilled the blood of the boys in Pearl Harbor and Midway and Wake and Guam is wiped out. The price of the Philippines in blood and tears and treasure will be such that Japan will never be able to pay it. Conceivably we might lose control of the Philippines for a little while. But just as surely as the sun lights the day, flocks of American airplanes taking off from the Philippines will in days to come darken the skies of Japan like a host of avenging angels.

Let it be said now and for all there are no partisan lines in this determination of the American people to win this war. 1 venture to suggest the President might do well to avail himself of the splendid talent and experience of men like former President Herbert Hoover, Wendell Willkie, Alf Landon, Thomas E. Dewey, Alfred E. Smith, Joseph B. Ely, John W. Hanes, Lewis W. Douglas, and others. I think it cannot be denied that Mr. Hoover at the head of Price Control, for instance, would give the Nation greater confidence than those who now exercise that control. All these men I have mentioned have a broad administrative experience and a deep sense of patriotism.

We must put an end to the bickerings and the jealousies which characterize some parts of the Administration in the war effort. This is the hour for efficiency, for the selection of the right man for the job and the end of politics in determining the selection of our administrators. The people are being called upon to make tremendous sacrifices. They demand the greatest non-partisan efficiency and economy procurable among our more than a hundred and thirty million free, capable people.

I am sure there is no difference of view that the bi-party system of government must be preserved; Constitutional elections must be held; Party organizations must be maintained and made more virile not only for a full war effort, but to help maintain our historic, American form of government. The elections of 1942 must go ahead. We cannot as a Nation set aside these elections without amending the Constitution. To dispense with the elections would be to discontinue our American form of government. Once discontinued it might be impossible to restore. It must not be forgotten we are fighting this war to preserve our American system of government and our American way of life. Graft, corruption, waste, collusion in contracts, inefficiency, must as far as possible be prevented.

We must see to it that small business does not perish in America. The livelihood of millions of Americans depends upon the small community industries of this country.

We must endeavor to obtain full war production with a minimum of dislocation in our economic structure. Unless we do this, we may fail to sustain the morale at home which is so essential for the winning of the war.

There must be curtailment of non-defense spending whenever possible. This is absolutely necessary. Not only must we of this generation and the coming generations toil, and sweat, and sacrifice to pay the bills wisely and efficiently contracted; we must toil, and sweat, and sacrifice just as much to pay for money unwisely or extravagantly spent, or stolen. This nation today is like a man upon whom has descended a sudden calamity; it is hard up; it has had ten years of tremendous expense; it now faces expenditures the extent of which it cannot even imagine. Therefore, we must discontinue every expenditure which is not vital and essential at this time. What will it profit us if we win the war and lose the peace?

We must build a program for the days which will follow the advent of peace. A vast depression, widespread unemployment can be and must be averted by planning as we go along.

I believe I voice the sentiment in the heart of every man and woman listening to me tonight when I say we must and we will bend every effort to the preservation of our system of government. The people will stand as a great bulwark against any sinister forces which might seek to destroy our form of government.

While we are fighting this war we must continue to work for the preservation of private enterprise. With whatever faults it may have it still is the best system yet devised by which to achieve the happiness, the prosperity and the progress of mankind.

The fact that we are in a war must not be permitted to impair our frankness or to make us afraid to face facts in a rational way. I want to say to you candidly we will have to be constantly on guard against the excesses of bureaucracy, and we must be prepared to fight if necessary for the return to the Congress and the people of the vast powers which have during the depression and in this war emergency been handed over to the Executive Department of our Government.

A vigorous, intelligent opposition party is more essential today than at any time in the history of our country. It will be the instrument by which we can check what might otherwise be disastrous mistakes, minimize costly errors, compel faithfulness and efficiency. It may well be the instrumentthrough which we will be able to retain our Constitutional form of government and our political mechanism by which we have implemented the Declaration of Independence. Permit me to remind you that the first World War President, Woodrow Wilson, once said:

"We do not need less criticism in time of war, but more . . . It is hoped that criticism will be constructive, but better unfair attack than autocratic repression . . . Honesty and competence require no shield of secrecy,"

The late Mr. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, one of our greatest liberals, was in full agreement on the same point. He once said:

"We do not lose our right to condemn either measures or men because the country is at war."

The responsibility for measuring and evaluating the policies and the acts of the government under our Constitutional system of checks and balances rests upon the Congress. As I have said many times before, the only way in which the Congress can function as an independent, coordinate branch of the government is through the bi-party system, and the traditional American method of proposal, disagreement, discussion and compromise. That is the only way we can have a responsible, free government.

This war will require work and sacrifices greater than ever before. Planes, submarines, warships, tanks, guns and munitions must roll out of the factories in an ever-increasing flood. Employers and employees must cease to think of themselves as such. We are all henceforth united as Americans to make certain there is no interruption in this rising tide of war essentials. We will—we must—give the boys in the Navy and the Army the best and most efficient tools in the world with which to perform their task. Together with our valiant Allies our boys will do the job.

In this time when civilization must battle with a tidal wave of barbarism, all our statesmanship is imperatively demanded to preserve our world status. We must be prepared for some reverses. There will be times of discouragement. But the magnificent fortitude and fighting spirit of our Allies is our inspiring example. It is just as certain that we and our Allies will emerge triumphant from this war as it is that dawn follows darkness. The question is not, will we win? It is, how soon will we win?

After all, my fellow citizens, there is nothing new in this contest with the forces of ruthless brutishness. The struggle for freedom, against tyranny in thought and speech, in religion, in government, in industry, is the greatest achievement of the human race. But it is a battle which must be waged over and over and over again. It is a conflict of the ages; first the struggle to be free and then the never-ending struggle to remain free. The victories already won have been the crowning glory of mankind. The victories which will be won will be the crowning salvation of mankind.

This great industrial nation with all its enormous resources cannot be beaten. We have the courage and the spirit to buckle down to the job. Our Allies are strong nations.

So then, my fellow countrymen, we are engaged in a war which is but the beginning of a time of sacrifice; of toil; of privation; of patriotism. After the destructions of war must come the reconstructions of peace; but before we can plan the reconstructions of peace we must in this struggle make sure insofar as we can that the destructive forces of predatory wars shall not touch us again. The struggle is going to call for the fullest measure of devotion on the part of every man, woman and child in this country.

In the words of Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday we are soon to celebrate:

"Let us have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us to the end dare to do our duty as we understand it . . . With firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in."