The World at Peace
FUTURE OF OPPORTUNITY AND ADVENTURE FOR YOUTH
By GEORGE VI, King of Great Britain
Delivered over the radio from London, England, December 25, 1945
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. XII, pp. 167-168.
FOR six years past I have spoken at Christmas to an empire at war. During all those years of sorrow and danger, of weariness and strife, you and I have been upheld by a vision of the world at peace. And now that vision has become a reality. By gigantic efforts and sacrifices a great work has been done, a great evil has been cast from the earth, and no peoples have done more to cast it out than you to whom I speak.
With my whole heart I pray to God, by whose grace victory has been won, that this Christmas may bring to my peoples all the world over every joy they have dreamed of in the dark days that are gone.
This Christmas is a real homecoming to us all, a return to a world in which the homely and friendly things of life can again be ours. To win victory, much that was of great price has been given up, much has been ravaged or destroyed by the hand of war. But the tilings that have been saved are beyond price.
In these homelands of the British peoples which we have saved from destruction, we still possess the things that make life precious, and we shall find them strengthened and deepened by the fires of battle.
Faith in these things held us in brotherhood through all our trials, and has carried us to victory.
Perhaps a better understanding of that brotherhood is the most precious of all the gains that remain with us after these hard years.
Together all our peoples round the globe have met every danger and triumphed over it; and we are together; still. Most of all are we together, as one world-wide family, in the joy of Christmas.
I think of men and women of every race within the empire returning from their long service to their own families, to their own homes and to the ways of peace. I think of the children, freed from unnatural fears and a blacked-out world, celebrating this Christmas in the light and happiness of the family circle once more reunited.
There will be the vacant places of those who will never return, brave souls who gave their all to win peace for us.
We remember them with pride and with unfading love, praying that a greater peace than ours may now be theirs.
There are those of you, still to be numbered in millions, who are spending a Christmas far from your homes, engaged in east and west in the long and difficult task of restoring to shattered countries the means and the manners of civilized life.
But many anxieties have been lifted from you and from your folks at home; and the coming of peace brings you nearer to your heart's desire.
There is not yet for us the abundance of peace. We all have to make a little go a long way. But Christmas comes with its message of hope and fellowship to all men of goodwill, and warms our hearts with kindliness and comradeship.
We cannot, on this day, forget how much is still to be done before the blessings of peace are brought to all the world. In the liberated countries millions will spend this Christmas under terribly hard conditions, with only the bare necessities of life.
The nations of the world are not yet a united family. So let our sympathy for others move us to humble gratitude that God has given to our commonwealth and empire a wonderful spirit of unity and understanding.
To the younger of you I would say a special word.
You have grown up in a world at war, in which your fine spirit of service has been devoted to a single purpose-the overthrow and destruction of our enemies.
You have known the world only as a world of strife and fear. Bring now all that fine spirit to make it one of joyous adventure, a home where men and women can live in mutual trust and walk together as friends.
Do not judge life by what you have seen of it in the grimness and waste of war, nor yet by the confusion of the first years of peace.
Have faith in life at its best and bring to it your courage, your hopes and your sense of humor.
For merriment is the birthright of the young. But we can all keep it in our hearts as life goes on, if we hold fast by the spirit that refuses to admit defeat; by the faith that never falters; by the hope that cannot be quenched.
Let us have no fear of the future but think of it as opportunity and adventure.
The same dauntless resolve, which you have shown so abundantly in the years of danger, that the power of darkness shall not prevail, must now be turned to a happier purpose, to making the light shine more brightly everywhere.
The light of joy can be most surely kindled by the fireside, where most of you are listening.
Home life, as we all remember at Christmas, is life at its best. There, in the trust and love of parents and children, brothers and sisters, we learn how men and nations, too, may live together in unity and peace.
So to everyone of you, who are gathered now in your homes or holding the thought of home in your hearts, I say-A Merry Christmas and God bless you all.