Salute to U. S. Armed Forces


By HARRY S. TRUMAN, President of the United States

Broadcast from Washington, D. C., September 2, 1945

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. XI, pp. 712.

I AM speaking to you, the armed forces of the United States, as I did after V Day in Europe, at a high moment in history. The war, to which we have devoted all the resources and all the energy of our country for more than three and a half years, has now produced total victory over all our enemies.

"This is a time for great rejoicing and a time for solemn contemplation. With the destructive force of war removed from the world, we can turn now to the grave tasks of preserving the peace which you gallant men and women have won.

"It is a task which requires our most urgent attention. It is one in which we must collaborate with our allies and the other nations of the world. They are as determined as we are that war must be abolished from the earth if the earth, as we know it, is to remain. Civilization cannot survive another total war.

"I think you know what is in the hearts of your countrymen on this night. They are thousands of miles away from most of you. Yet they are close to you in deep gratitude and in a solemn sense of obligation. They remember—and I know they will never forget—those who have gone from among you, those who are maimed, those who, thank God, are still safe after years of fighting and suffering and danger.

"And I know that in this hour of victory their thoughts—like yours—are with your departed Commander in Chief, Franklin D. Roosevelt. This is the hour for which he so gallantly fought and so bravely died.

"I think I know the American soldier and sailor. He does not want gratitude or sympathy. He had a job to do. He did not like it. But he did it. And how he did it!

"Now, he wants to come back home and start again the life he loves—a life of peace and quiet, the life of the civilian.

"But he wants to know that he can come back to a good life. He wants to know that his children will not have to go back to the life of the fox-hole and the bomber, the wttleship and the submarine.

"I speak in behalf of all your countrymen when I pledge you that we shall do everything in our power to make those wishes come true.

"For some of you, I am sorry to say military service must continue for a time. We must keep an occupation force in the Pacific to clean out the militarism of Japan, just as we are cleaning out the militarism of Germany. The United Nations are determined that never again shall either of those countries be able to attack its peaceful neighbors.

"But the great majority of you will be returned to civilian life as soon as the ships and planes can get you here. The task of moving so many men and women thousands of miles to their homes is a gigantic one. It will take months to accomplish.

"You have my pledge that we will do everything possible to speed it up. We want you back with us to make your contribution to our country's welfare and to a new world of peace.

"The high tide of victory will carry us forward to great achievements in the era which lies ahead. But we can perform them only in a world which is free from the threat of war. We depend on you who have known war in all its horror to keep this nation aware that only through cooperation among all nations can any nation remain wholly secure.

"On this night of total victory we salute you of the armed forces of the United States—wherever you may be. What a job you have done!

"We are all waiting for the day when you will be home with us again.

"Good luck and God bless you!"