We Must Have Unity
By SAM RAYBURN, Congressman from Texas
Delivered in the House of Representatives, Washington, D. C., December 9, 1943
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. X, pp. 229-230.
I DO not know whether it is possible for me by saying what I have in my heart today to say to be helpful to all of us or not. I read a great deal, I hear a lot of conversation, I hear things and I see things on the printed page that I feel are very hurtful to the unity of your country and mine and if I were going to say what would be the subject of my remarks today I would say that I desire to speak on some dangerous trends.
I know that every man and woman in this House loves this country. I do not doubt the patriotism of a single one of you, I do not doubt the patriotism of those numberless millions of men and women out there. I do know that there are complaints about supposed sacrifices. I think I know, however, that the people in this country who are making the greatest sacrifices are complaining the least. I think of the mother of six sons, a widow, in the district I represent. Every one of her sons is in the Army or in the Navy. She is not complaining, but is meeting her sacrifice as a great American and has gone out to get herself a war job.
Every day or every week somebody, somewhere asks: "What are we going to do with England after the war is over?" "Is England in diplomacy going to outdo us after the war is over?" "What is going to be done with this little island, or that little island, or the other little island in some sea after this war is over?" "Is England going to stride the world like a colossus?"
That is dangerous talk. Anything calculated to bring about disunity and wrong thinking in our own country or disunity among us and those allied with us is dangerous talk; it is dangerous propaganda; it is a reflection upon the intelligence of American manhood and womanhood that we do not have patriotism enough and brains enough to sit around a peace table with anybody upon the face of the earth.
I brand expressions like that as canards, not only upon the patriotism, but the intelligence of those who will represent us when this terrible war is over.
Then somebody says to me: "What are we going to do with Russia after the war is over?" "What is Russia going to do after the war is over?" What I am interested in in 1943 and 1944 is what Russia is doing now. We will settle those things after this war is over.
They ask, Is Russia going to communize the world? Will that strange doctrine find root in American soil? It will only when the people of the United States are willing to accept communism, and not until then.
Is somebody trying to change our form of government, they ask; an insidious group somewhere? Now, listen: Under our form of government and the way we have of doing, the election of Members of the House of Representatives each 2 years, the election of a President every 4 years, and the election of all the Senate each 6 years; this form of government of yours and mine is not going to be changed until the people exercising their intelligence and an unpurchasable ballot, vote to change this form of government.
Another thing, especially Since the Patton affair, which was tragically unfortunate, the Army has not escaped whisperings. Of course, everybody knows that mistakes have been made, that judgments have gone wrong. If in the Army they had had months to consider whether or not they would do a certain thing, some of the seeming mistakes might not have been made. We were attacked and we were unprepared to defend ourselves. Things had to be done in a hurry. Decisions had to he made, when you could not even wait overnight. I do fear that these men in the Army and in the Navy, if criticism goes on, and if they are called into the open to answer questions that many times should be asked in executive session, may themselves come to fear to make decisions upon which the fate of the Nation or a hemisphere may depend.
I call your attention to that because I know that these earnest men are using all of their training, all of their brains, and all of their patriotism to do this job well, and to do it as
quickly as it is possible. If the Army and the Navy cannot run this war better than any civilian, then we should have done away with West Point and Annapolis a long time ago.
So when these strange things are talked and printed and blared over the radio, I hope that we, if we are fortunate enough to have a few days among our own people during the Christmas season, which at its best cannot be a very happy Christmas, will go back and try to stamp out some of these things among our own people.
Another thing, ceilings for the other fellow but not for me; price fixation for the other fellow but not for me; uncontrolled inflation on what I have to sell but controlled prices on what I am called upon to buy—that just will not work.
We can tell the people of America a story of production unequaled by anything in the annals of time. Two things stand out in 1942, and will for half a century, in my opinion. One was the swift conversion of American industry from what it was doing to the manufacture of the instruments of war, and the mass production that they brought about. The 1943 production is far in excess of 1942. It has been stupendous. The other was the unexpected and successful resistance of Russia.
Some people say, "Why send so many things across the ocean to other people?" I would rather send bullets and bread to the armies of the Allies to fight on their front than to have to send more of our boys to fight on all fronts.
Let me repeat that the people, in my opinion, who are complaining the most are the ones least justified in complaining. I am an average American citizen, no better, I know, no worse, I hope, than the average. 1 have no son to give to this war to the reconstruction of a sad and stricken world after it is over, and I am in the same position as at least 50 percent of the men and women. I am wondering what sacrifice I have made, and I cannot think of a single one. Maybe I have been slightly inconvenienced. Like the average American, I have had all the coffee I needed to drink and plenty of sugar to go into it. I have had enough gasoline to transact my essential business. I have eaten well and plenty, as has every other American citizen, and many of them are eating better today than they have ever eaten before. Of course, I have bought some bonds, all I can afford to buy. That is no sacrifice. I will get my money back with interest, if these boys who are fighting and dying over there win this war for you and for me.
We in this country would not know that a war was on if we did not read the newspapers, hear the radio, and see the vacant chairs in the homes of the country. In all probability, a hostile gun will never be heard fired inside of this hemisphere, a bomb in all probability will never fall. But. when I think of this widow that is giving six sons, she is making a sacrifice. When I think of her son who has been in command of a submarine in the Pacific Ocean ever since Pearl Harbor; when I think of millions of other mothers' sons who are in the Southwest Pacific, and all other theaters of war, wadingin the mud and muck and mire of vermin-infested islands, where if disease does not attack them the murderous Jap or a murderous German is behind every stone, every stump, and every tree; when I think of the sacrifice of these people, I would despise myself if I complained about my little inconveniences, and that is the best or the worst or the greatest sacrifice I have made.
Some people are complaining who have improved their position during this war. I hate to think it, but as I do think it, I must say it, I think some groups in this country, at the expense of our unity in the war effort, are thinking more of their position after the war than they are of winning the war now. It is a sad commentary upon some human beings.
Some people just love to be unhappy. They just love to be scared. "What is Russia going to do to us?" "What is England going to do to us?" "What are they going to take from us?" "What have they got to give us after this thing is over?" "Are we going to be able to feed the world after this thing is over?" "Are they going to demand the bread and the meat that should go into the mouths of our people and the milk that should go into the stomachs of our children, to the deprivation of our people here?" Of course, that is not going to happen. Ah, my friends, this war is not over by a great deal. The people of the United States are so geared that if we win a little island somewhere they think the war is almost over. I think anyone who predicts the length of a war is dealing in super-hazards. And I do not predict the length of the war in Europe or in Asia. But I cannot see anything in this situation, either in Europe or in Asia, that would cause me to believe it is going to be a short war. It is going to take the might and brain of every patriot under the flag to do this job. Our hands are to the plow. We cannot look back. The very fate of civilization depends not only on how our Army and our Navy act, but how you and I act and how you and I respond to the necessity of this hour.
Unity in this war effort we must have, and I trust the brains and the patriotism of Americans after it is all over to look after our interests. It is going to take the work, the loyalty, and the love of every citizen throughout the length and breadth of the earth who loves liberty and who is willing to sacrifice to preserve liberty in this world and make it again a decent place in which to live. I am saying this not for you so much as hoping that it might get out somewhere and might help somebody and might stop some complaints which are wholly unjustified. When I think of the millions of men and women who are making the supreme sacrifice in sons in this war, when I think of the bravery of the best equipped soldiers that ever went to battle in the history of mankind, how our production has put into their hands the greatest instruments of defense and for attack of any soldiers ever called to battle in all the history of mankind. If we do our job on this front in unity, not only here but with those who fight with us, God knows, and you know, that the boys who wear the uniform will do their part.