A Job to Finish


By HENRY A. WALLACE, Vice-President of the United States

Delivered at the George Washington Dinner given under the auspices of the Democratic National Committee, Washington. D. C., February 22, 1943

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. IX, pp. 326.

AMERICAN boys in North Africa tonight are fighting mad. Remembering those who have fallen, they will not be satisfied until they chase the Nazis out of Africa, Italy and Berlin. They are eager to finish the job.

Men in position to know believe that if the people of the United States and England put forth the same unified, all-out effort that now is being displayed by the magnificent Russians, Germany can be defeated in 1943. But this will not happen in 1943 if we allow our policy to be dictated by those who believe that the Russians are going to win the war for us without further help from us. Our sons, brothers and nephews on the fighting front and their relatives at home know better. We can knock out Hitler and the Japs in the second round of this fight, but we shall have to harness every spiritual and material resource to this purpose.

Here is an example of what I mean. In October of 1917 one of our leading statesmen, who is now a member of the loyal opposition, urged that we send to our allies in Europe food and munitions, but that we avoid dislocating our civilian life at home by sending men. His advice, if it had been followed, would have allowed Germany to win that war in the summer of 1918. This man in perfectly good faith is giving similar advice today. He would cut down the size of our army, regardless of military necessity.

I am confident that most Americans do not share this point of view. They know that an ounce of effort in 1943 may be worth a pound in 1944. They know that catering to comforts at home would cost the blood of thousands of boys at the front. Real farmers, real workers, real businessmen, and the women of America are willing to give everything they have, if need be, in this fight for freedom.

This does not mean we can not speak our minds freely. Within the limits of the necessities of war, freedom of speech and freedom of the press prevail as always, and any one has the right to express himself—to criticize those who are conducting the war, or to criticize those who are doing the criticizing.

But I am sure the American public means business, and will have little patience with any political party which puts partisan advantage above the national welfare. That places upon the Democratic majority in our government the responsibility for pushing on to victory in the war, and for abstaining from bitter attacks on partisan opponents. And it places upon the Republican minority the responsibility for really behaving as a loyal opposition, and abstaining from tactics which are purely political. The American public will not forget, and will not condone, any attempts to use the unavoidable shortages and restrictions of war time as a basis for a partisan campaign to undermine confidence in the government.

The Russians, fighting in the snow and bitter cold, say that George Washington, our first commander in chief, set them an example at Valley Forge. He suffered on various chilly occasions, and especially from Tory obstruction and half-hearted support. He never lost courage, and, so today, we have a United States of America.

Our present commander in chief, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, is equally determined that this war for freedom shall be won. He is much more fortunate in the degree of unity in the country today. Even though there still are a few who have not caught the vision of the nation's epic fight, President Roosevelt is backed by the invincible resolve of the great mass of the American people.

No matter how great the price, they will follow his leadership and drive through to the day when the United Nations are victorious. Then we can turn our thoughts to the long-time job of assuring our millions of returning soldiers and sailors, and the millions of workers and farmers at home, of a decent opportunity in a world at peace.