The Greater Conquest
KEEP YOUR VISION CLEAR
By FRANK J. LAUSCHE, Mayor of Cleveland, Ohio
Delivered before the graduating class of Case School of Applied Science, December 9, 1943
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. X, pp. 178-181.
TWO days ago, Americans, with grim and solemn resolves commemorated the second anniversary of Pearl Harbor. In the 732 days which have followed the day that will live in infamy, our nation has fought its way back from the edge of disaster to the threshold of victory. Pearl Harbor was America's Commencement Day. On that day America reached her maturity. On that day America first became conscious of her real role in the world; that the world has shrunken and has become a rather small global community; that no nation can hereafter live apart or evade her responsibilities to the rest of the world.
I congratulate you young men of this graduating class because you reach your commencement day in such an eventful and epoch-making period in the history of the world. You not only stand on the threshold of the future, but you are the future.
I see that of the class of 180 soon to receive degrees in engineering, chemistry, metallurgy, physics, etc., more than one-third are already wearing the glorious uniform of the United States Navy. I know that an additional number will, within a few days, don the uniforms of other branches of the armed forces; while the rest will assume important posts on the home front as scientists, engineers, metallurgists, designers of aircraft and developers of Radar.
You are leaving your sheltered classrooms to step into a world of unparalleled destruction. You venture forth to meet the greatest challenges that have ever confronted young men. You go forth to participate in a world struggle for the ultimate freedom of the world. On land, on the sea, and in the air, you are to combat the enemies of our nation. On production lines and in laboratories you will fabricate the sinews of war.
The greatest opportunities that have ever confronted young men are yours. You venture forth to discover and set up the foundations of a new world order. New frontiers will be opened by you, for you will find through the skyways an unexplored and undeveloped world which though many thousands of miles distant from your homes, is closer to you in time than was our undeveloped west to the early settlers of our nation.
Upon your youthful shoulders rests a tremendous responsibility to yourselves, to the world as it is and to generations yet to come. For yours is the task of winning the war, winning the peace, keeping it won, eradicating war and building a better society on the ashes of the war devastated world of today.
You as men of science are, indeed, men of the hour. This is a war of science, of technology, of speed and mobility where engineers, chemists, physicists, and metallurgists fabricate the grim tools of war.
But your responsibility extends far beyond the war and the achievement of victory. What a miserable and futile victory it would be if the war came to an end with nothing determined other than that "our side had developed the superior implements of destruction.
As men of science it is your obligation to mankind to make science the servant of peace.
Janus-like you must look two ways at once. While devising greater and more fearful instruments of destruction, you must also prepare the blueprints and start building the tools of reconstruction. You must deal with the present grim realities of war. At the same time you must not forget the humanities.
With vision to see, minds to evaluate and faith to move forward you can accomplish this dual mission. It is your responsibility as students of science.
You have completed your college assignments. Within a few days you will receive your toughest of all assignments. Each of you will be taking his battle station on the fighting front or the home front—in the life and death struggle for the preservation of our way of life.
Two years ago our nation was assailed by the cruelest, most ruthless and most powerful forces of evil in all the history of the world. Democracy, national independence, the right of freedom of thought and speech and worship, the chance for personal success and the right of individual safety —the freedoms that are the very core of American life-were struck at. To preserve them we have been pouring our wealth, energies and life into one overwhelming effort to destroy the would-be despoilers of our liberties.
This life and death struggle for national survival is your inheritance. You are members of a unique generation. Youwere born at the end of a great world struggle. You spent your childhood amidst days of a great world wide industrial depression. And now you inherit the bloodiest and most colossal war in all the annals of man. The global struggle is not of your doing. But it is your fight. The outcome of the war is of greater concern to you than to those of the older generation, for the world of the future shall belong to you. Your elders fought a war to make the world safe for democracy. They won the war. But they lost the peace. So you inherit the job your elders could not complete. We have had to start again from the beginning. Now it has become your job not only to fight and win the war but also to rebuild the devastated world and raise it out of the ashes of destruction.
The world of tomorrow will belong to the youth of today. Yours is the privilege to work, fight and sacrifice for the world you want to enjoy.
The priceless blessing of freedom can never be taken for granted. Thomas Jefferson declared, "the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." And experience shows that freedom must be won anew by every generation—and paid for. The price is always high. But never too high.
To fight for freedom is ever the privilege and heritage of youth.
Glance back over the corridors of time. Go back to the momentous year of 1776. A new nation is being forged in the fires of revolution. The people of the American colonies, aroused by the burning passion for liberty, hurled a resounding challenge to a despotic world: "We want these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." The author of these immortal words was a young man—Thomas Jefferson.
It seemed such a forlorn cause in those days. But on the floor of the Virginia House of Burgesses, a young man of only 29 years arose and lit the flame of revolt. He was Patrick Henry—and he hurled the challenge of youth—the challenge that became the rallying cry of the American Revolution. It was the young men of the colonies whose courage and daring over-awed the forces of tyranny and resulted in the triumphant establishment of American democracy.
Witness the services of the gallant Marquis de Lafayette, who at the age of twenty, was a commander of a division in Washington's army; and Alexander Hamilton, who at the age of 17, had already astounded the world by a series of trenchant essays on the support of America's independence; at twenty, was the aide-de-camp of General Washington, with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel; at 30 was writing most of the federalist papers which won the colonies over to the ratification of the Constitution; and at 32, was George Washington's Secretary of the Treasury.
Our War for Independence was, indeed, a young man's crusade.
The same spirit of youth that infused life into American democracy in the throes of its birth, has been the breath of its life in every subsequent emergency.
No doubt you have seen the old tintype pictures of soldiers of the Civil War depicting them in most instances as bearded and mature men. They were bearded, all right, but most of the beards covered chins that had never felt the scrape of a razor. When Or. Oliver Wendell Holmes went to Antietam battlefield to find his wounded son and namesake, Captain Oliver Wendell Holmes, destined to become the great justice of the United States Supreme Court, the poet recorded his astonishment by declaring that the war was being wagedby "children."
And he was not far from wrong, for it appears from official pension records that at least three-fourths of the Union Army were under 21 at the time of enlistment. General Sheridan stated that if it had not been for the boys under 21 years of age, the Union never could have been saved.
Tod ay again youth is summoned to battle for the cherished rights that are the cornerstone of American democracy. Once again youth is in the front lines of our national defense. Youth again has been called upon to contribute their blood, brawn and brains to turn back the forces of barbarism and oppression.
Two years ago, December 7th, America faced the most critical situation in her history. Traditionally a land of peace, our nation was forced into a merciless war without warning, without trained men, and without adequate equipment. We were then probably the weakest of the major powers in military might. Our army was negligible. Our air forces were infinitesimal. Our navy was of uncertain strength. Then came that day of infamy and treachery and a good part of our navy's battleships lay at the bottom of Pearl Harbor. A substantial portion of the army's bomber force was smashed to the ground. The Philippines were lost. The Panama Canal, South America and our very coast lines were threatened. Our ships were sunk faster than they were being built. Without preparation we were forced to fight with our backs to the wall—in every part of the world—hard-pressed, to stem a rising tide of tyranny and oppression unequalled in the annals of time.
Opponents of democracy scoffed that democracy was doomed.
But how different is the picture today. After twenty-four grim months of preparation and fighting, the balance of power has shifted. The miracle of American production has equalled and surpassed the huge reserves of ships, planes and guns which our enemies had accumulated during more than a decade of preparation for war.
We have become an armed colossus—the World's No. 1 Military Power.
Today America possesses the mightiest fleet in the history of the world and the most powerful naval air force in existence. Today the United States is on the offensive in two wars.
Today the United States alone is producing about one-third more war goods than Great Britain and Russia combined—and far more than Germany and Japan together. It is pouring ninety billions of dollars into war this year—almost half the entire national product. For that money it is getting a flow of armaments such as the world has never before seen.
Those who had scoffed at the democratic system of free enterprise as decadent and wasteful while extolling totalitarianism as dynamic, scientific and a superior order of life, today see the falsity of their beliefs.
Despite labor-employer difficulties, the profit motives of free enterprise, the delays and indecision which naturally arise from the democratic right to debate, discuss and criticize, our so-called "soft and decadent democracy" has been able to out-produce all of the totalitarian states put together. We not only have been able to create the largest fighting force in the world, but we have succeeded in creatine the spirit and the will to win which has no superior in all the world.
We have done all this without surrender of individual liberties, without sacrifice of civil rights or free elections or any of the essential privileges of free men.
Today America is on the march—on the production front as well as on the battle front.
And on both fronts, engineers, chemists, physicists and other men of science are playing leading and indispensable roles.
A veritable miracle is the record of American production since Pearl Harbor. In those 730 fateful days American factories have increased the output of war goods 6x 1/2 times. The early trickle of munitions production has developed into an irresistible flood which is overwhelming the enemy on every front. I will not bore you with statistics, but suffice it to say that we are making more airplanes than the rest of the world put together. Our naval shipbuilders are turning out in 12 months more naval craft than Japan has been able to accumulate in all her history up to the time the war broke out. Our navy has over 12 times as many vessels in service as it had in 1941, despite sinkings. Almost equally as great is the record for merchant ships.
In guns, tanks, self-propelled artillery, ammunition and signal equipment, we have out-stripped all other nations in the world as far as speed and quality of products are concerned.
American genius is far out-stripping the rest of the world in the production of aluminum, magnesium and the production and use of new metals, new plastics and developing newsources for basic metals.
Incidentally, it is of interest to recall that it was the youthful Charles M. Hall, alumnus of neighboring Oberlin College, who at the ripe old age of 22, perfected the process of putting cheap aluminum on the market.
In the case of synthetic rubber, where pre-war output was less than 10,000 tons, today we are equipped to produce 850,000 tons in 1944.
Steel production in the United States for the year 1943 will rise to 90 million tons—three times as much as the next largest producer, Germany and Austria combined, and nearly 12 times the production of Japan.
This herculean task could never have been accomplished without the inventive and productive genius of American men of science—engineers, chemists, metallurgists, physicists and other experts in the various fields of technology and chemistry. To them the hundreds of millions of people of the United Nations owe a debt of gratitude that can never be fully paid.
It has been said, and with much logic, that modern science, creator of the airplane, the most terrible engine of destruction the world has ever known, and also of long range artillery, the bursting bomb, the flame thrower, poison gas and tanks, has made war more horrible than it has ever been in the past.
True! But science has also made war more humane. It has lessened suffering on the field of battle. Revolutionary medical discoveries have affected a saving of human life greater than the sum of human life lost in war. Only one per cent of those wounded on Guadalcanal have died, and even in Russia, the death rate is only 1.5 per cent. The reason for this miracle is, of course, quick transportation and hospitalization of the wounded, and modern medical treatment with blood plasma and the sulfa drugs, which prevent infection and promote healing.
Famine and disease which strike behind the fronts have been well nigh eliminated.
In power, mobility and destructiveness the airplane surpasses every other weapon yet devised by man. But the airplane can also become the greatest blessing. The airplane has wiped out distance, carried the war right to the home front and slaughters not only soldiers but also women, and children and the aged. But properly used it can establish the rule of law between nations if men would convert it into a policing agent instead of using it as a weapon in the international duel. As a means of communication and transportation, linking up the remote parts of the globe, we airplane can be used to increase man's wealth, culture and happiness. Today, an evil weapon of death and destruction, the airplane has the potentialities of becoming mankind's greatest blessing.
A radio commentator, recently returned to the United States, said: "Yesterday morning I had breakfast in Algiers; I had supper at my club in London; I reached La Guardia Field in time for a late lunch."
What a small community the world has become! Distances are shrinking daily. Oceans have become small bodies of water. Planes are spanning the Atlantic in a matter of 400 minutes. A man can travel from New York to Moscow in a plane in less time than he can go from New York to Miami by train. The route from New York to Bombay is no longer a tedious three week voyage past Gibraltar and Suez but a 40 hour flight where the stop-over stations are Iceland, Oslo and Moscow. No spot on the globe is more than 60 hours from your local airport.
A new wind tunnel is being completed on the west coast which will enable aircraft manufacturers to test planes flying at speeds approaching that of sound itself—741 miles per hour!
Research experts like Dr. Charles Stine of the du Pont Company, point to the gigantic advances of science in this war and declare: "Already our world of 1940 is so distant in the past that it has become an antiquity as seen through the scientific eye. The inconceivable of two years ago are today's realities."
Today we talk in terms of television, helicopters, autogyros, walkie-talkies, synthetic rubber, plastics, high octane motor fuels, light metals, fire-resistant wood, rustless steel, packaged houses, air express, bendable glass, automatic lighting controlled by electric eye, synthetic fibers, food and drugs, and medical miracles which not only make obsolete pre-war processes, machinery and concepts but which actually stagger the imagination.
Voltaire, when told that there was a new invention that would enable men to talk to each other across continents and across oceans, replied, "Fine, but will men have anything worth while to say to each other?"
Do miracles of science alone spell progress? What good is annihilation of distance if all it accomplishes is to bring within round trip bombing range the cities and homes of other nations and make hotter battle grounds of crowded cities than the battlefields themselves?
What good is man's conquest of the forces of nature if he cannot control his own savage instincts?
Just as important as annihilating distance is the annihilation of the walls that have been separating peoples into warring camps. Science has created a shrunken world. Science shall have to aid in teaching men to understand their neighbors and enable them to work out a method of living together.
Engineers, metallurgists, physicists and other men of science are now playing leading roles in the war effort. They will be in the forefront of remaking the world.
As army engineers you will be called upon to build bridges for our armed forces. You will build them so our armies can cross over, contact the enemy and destroy him. But with that job done, make it your duty to build bridges of understanding among the nations of the world.
You will be called upon to build fortifications and barricades with walls so thick that they cannot be pierced. This accomplished, lend your talents as scientists to pierce and tear down other walls—invisible walls—walls of hate, wallsbuilt from the blueprints of treachery and topped with the barbs of tyranny, oppression, slave-labor, misery, starvation, man's inhumanity to man, and death. Build in place of these walls, windows—windows through which nations can see each other in a spirit of friendship and mutual tolerance.
It will he your job as engineers to construct highways. Construct them so our troops can march quickly to battle and to victory. But with that job done, clear the old paths and build new highways of peace and concord among the peoples of the world.
As airplane designers you will concern yourselves with visibility and instruments that enable our fliers to set their sights in battle. While vou maintain a world wide vision to win the war, I beg of you to keep your own sights high and maintain a world wide vision to win an enduring pence.
Victory first! Then you will be called upon to rebuild the war devastated world. Help build a new social order where aggression shall be outlawed and the use of force against any nation will be treated as a concern of all. For unless victory results in some form of collective security, all the sacrifices of this war will have been in vain. Instead of serving as a great mile-stone in man's slow progress on the road from force to law, it will be but an interlude to another and even more devastating future war.
As Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek reminds us:
"There will be neither peace nor hope, nor future for any of us unless we honestly aim at political, social and economic justice for all peoples of the world, great and small."
I envy the members of this senior class for the unique and glorious opportunity which is yours to serve in these epochal times. Yours is the opportunity not alone for a military victory but for the greater triumph that comes with a just peace. You shall play important parts in the building of a new America and a new world.
Like the pioneers of old you will have new worlds to conquer. A billion peoples in Eastern Asia, the Middle East and Latin America—virtually made over-the-fence neighbors of ours by the marvelous machines of travel and communication—want the machines of modern civilization. They want our capital and technical assistance. And above all they want the freedom from fear of being attacked by a powerful neighbor.
These new frontiers are not to be conquered by force or exploitation. They will be won only by friendship, education and understanding.
To achieve this great friendly conquest we shall first have to achieve self-conquest. We and our Allies must conquer the selfishness, the greed, the instincts for gain and the indifference for the suffering of human beings which inevitably lead to exploitation and to war.
You as leaders of the World of Tomorrow must be the leaders in this greater conquest. I have faith that your generation will fulfill its destiny. I have faith that the New World which you will build will be a far better world than the one in which we live today, I have faith that you will realize that in a world of airplanes, radio and television, isolationism has no place; that in a world grown small, unity between nations is absolutely essential for nations to survive—just as unity among our 48 states is regarded as indispensable for the United States to survive as a nation. I have faith that your generation will learn to know other countries as we now know our neighboring states; and that from an enlarged knowledge and revised geography will come new understanding.
Go forward, then, from Case School of Applied Science—as 1,192 recent graduates and members of the faculty now in the armed forces, have already done—with feet on the ground but with heads high in the rarefied atmosphere of lofty ideals.
Set your sights right and keep your vision clear not only for the space of this bitter war but for the days to come. So serve that the United States will be a better land because you are a part of it. Have abiding faith in the righteousness of America's cause and objectives. And in that faith march forward with all loyal Americans and comrades in arms of the United Nations, to victory . . . and toward the cleaner better World of Tomorrow.