Peace An Absolute Necessity


By GENERAL DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces

Delivered at Dinner Given in His Honor by the City of New York, June 19, 1945

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. XI, pp. 551-552.

TO say that the hearts of myself and my comrades that have come with me from Europe are stirred by the reception from New York is the rankest kind of understatement.

We have beheld scenes today that we didn't know were passible. Time and again in the tour of the city with the Mayor I felt, and I know that my comrades felt, that we would almost have to stop. This wasn't the kind of thing to which we were accustomed. We were simple soldiers coming home from the wars merely seeking the warmth again of America after what we had been through in Europe.

But the emotion stirred by seeing people that would ordinarily be termed strangers showing to us the warrants of friendship in such an unmistakable way as to fill our hearts to overflowing and practically to bring tears to our eyes; it was something that will be an experience to remember always.

Before I go further I want to say one thing in defense of the regular officer of the Army brought to my mind by the wonderful commendation given to me personally between the introductory remarks.

There is no greater pacifist than the regular officer.

Any man who is forced to turn his attention to the horrors of the battlefield, to the grotesque shapes that are left there for the burying squads—he doesn't want war. He never wants it. He is an agent of his Government to do a necessary and very desperate task. And it is to the welfare of the United States always to see that they have people studying those things and ready in emergency to do what the regular officer has done in this war, namely, furnish the technical leadership for the tactical, applied tactical power of a whole nation.

These tributes that were brought to me and to my comrades brought a curious idea to my head—I don't mean curious, I mean it was one I hadn't thought of before. It was this: Why shouldn't America as represented by New York—and I thoroughly agree that New York is representative of America—why shouldn't New York be celebrating what it has done. Don't ever let any one sell short what America has done in this war. Not only has it been the arsenal of democracy, it has furnished some of the best fighting divisions, the best air forces and the best Navy that this war has produced.

America's record in production and on. the battle line is one that will fill our histories forever, and today you should turn your thoughts to what you have done, and I mean you, America. And remember that you can do it because self-confidence is one of the great things that brings greater achievements still in the future.

We are still at war. I hope that the rejoicing in which we indulge because of the crushing of the Nazi will never blind us to the task we still have in the Pacific. The reason I bring this up at this moment is this—it is to your interest always to remember it:

With the enormous quota that you have furnished for the battle lines you have a tremendous interest in seeing that losses are minimized. Losses are minimized by producing the most powerful machine that you can possibly crowd into a given area of ground to defeat the enemy. If you apply on the battlefield equal forces, a bloody result is certain. If you apply overwhelming force, losses for your side are negligible.

That is what you must do in the Pacific—apply the maximum force that America is capable of developing and you will win quickly and with the least losses. One of the things that you must remember particularly is production, because here represented in many of its forms financial, industrial, economic, New York is the heart of America. Production must be kept up because when a bomb can do the work let us not spend an American life for it.

But this connection of yours with the battle-line is no impersonal thing. Your quotas on the battle-line prevent any such idea creeping into our thinking. And you can do more than merely your share in producing the arms and equipment that save American lives.

There is a spiritual side to the soldier's life that is often starved. I mean his opportunities for recreation, for feeling close to his home folks. One of the ways that that can be helped is through the entertainment sponsored by the USO. It is something that deserves your support just exactly as does the Red Cross. They have done magnificent work and sent great artists to the field that have made the soldier feel he was back on Broadway almost.

With your energy sustained at the full our soldiers fighting in the Pacific—and by soldiers I mean all fighting services, not merely land armies—the victory in Japan is certain. With overwhelming force it will come all the more speedily. When that job is done there will be other problems facing you. Two of them I want to mention because they are related. They are jobs for men and peace in the world.

Prosperous nations are not war hungry, but a hungry nation will always seek war if it has to in desperation.

We cannot be isolated from the world.

From New York to my headquarters in Frankfort it is exactly sixteen hours by air. You are that close to trouble all the time if trouble starts in Europe. It is to our interest to see that we are strong. To repeat a remark I made this noon: Weakness cannot cooperate with anything. Only strength can cooperate.

As I see it, peace is an absolute necessity to this world. Civilization itself, in the face of another catastrophe such as we have faced in the last three years—and for other nations more—would tremble, possibly decay and be destroyed. We must face those problems of peace with the same resolution that America showed in 1941 and '42 when not the greatest optimist could believe that within eleven months after landing in Normandy the American arms and Allied arms would stand triumphant on the Elbe.

I believe that we should let no specious argument of any kind deter us from exploring every direction in which peace can be maintained. I believe we should be strong, but we should be tolerant. We should be ready to defend our rights but we should be considerate and recognize the rights of the other man.

This business of preserving peace is a practical thing but practicality and idealism are not necessarily mutually antagonistic. We can be idealistic and we can be practical along with it.

You have great hospitals in your city that are filled with wounded men. I call them "my wounded men, they came back from my theatre." I don't want to see any more of them there, ever.

I feel that if the brains and the intelligence, the genius of America are placed on this problem, if we can forget self, if we can forget politics, if we can forget personal ambitions we can solve this problem, and we must solve the problem or we will all be lost.

No man can tell me that America with its glorious mixture of races, of creeds, its Jews, its Catholics, its Protestants—it cannot lose, and we can't lose this one.