60 Years Ago: Thursday, January 20, 1949

Written by veterans  |  19. January 2009

Not just a veteran issue, an everybody issue. "A former county judge, Senator and Vice President, Harry S. Truman had taken the oath of office first on April 12, 1945, upon the death of President Roosevelt. Mr. Truman's victory in the 1948 election was so unexpected that many newspapers had declared the Republican candidate, Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York, the winner. The President went to the East Portico of the Capitol to take the oath of office on two Bibles"the personal one he had used for the first oath, and a Gutenberg Bible donated by the citizens of Independence, Missouri. The ceremony was televised as well as broadcast on the radio." Here is some of what he said... said sixty years ago. But with the few changes I've made, you can not help but wonder... and hope! Thursday, January 20, 1949, Harry S. Truman Mr. Vice President, Mr. Chief Justice, and fellow citizens, I accept with humility the honor which the American people have conferred upon me. I accept it with a deep resolve to do all that I can for the welfare of this Nation and for the peace of the world. Each period of our national history has had its special challenges. Those that confront us now are as momentous as any in the past. Today marks the beginning not only of a new administration, but of a period that will be eventful, perhaps decisive, for us and for the world. It may be our lot to experience, and in large measure to bring about, a major turning point in the long history of the human race. The [last decade] has been marked by unprecedented and brutal attacks on the rights of man, and by... two most frightful wars in history. The supreme need of our time is for men to learn to live together in peace and harmony. The peoples of the earth face the future with grave uncertainty, composed almost equally of great hopes and great fears. In this time of doubt, [we hope] they [will now] look to the United States as never before for good will, strength, and wise leadership. It is fitting, therefore, that we take this occasion to proclaim to the world the essential principles of the faith by which we live, and to declare our aims to all peoples. The American people stand firm in the faith which has inspired this Nation from the beginning. We believe that all men have a right to equal justice under law and equal opportunity to share in the common good. We believe that all men have the right to freedom of thought and expression. We believe that all men are created equal because they are created in the image of God. The American people desire, and are determined to work for, a world in which all nations and all peoples are free to govern themselves as they see fit, and to achieve a decent and satisfying life. Above all else, our people desire, and are determined to work for, peace on earth"a just and lasting peace"based on genuine agreement freely arrived at by equals. In the pursuit of these aims, the United States and other like-minded nations find themselves directly opposed by... regimes with contrary aims and a totally different concept of life. [Those] regime[s] adhere to a false philosophy which purports to offer freedom, security, and greater opportunity to mankind. Misled by this philosophy, many peoples have sacrificed their liberties only to learn to their sorrow that deceit and mockery, poverty and tyranny, are their reward. That false philosophy is [terrorism]. [Terrorism] is based on the belief that man is so weak and inadequate that he is unable to govern himself, and therefore requires the rule of strong masters. Democracy is based on the conviction that man has the moral and intellectual capacity, as well as the inalienable right, to govern himself with reason and justice. [Terrorism] subjects the individual to arrest without lawful cause, punishment without trial, and forced labor as the chattel of the state. It decrees what information he shall receive, what art he shall produce, what leaders he shall follow, and what thoughts he shall think. Democracy maintains that government is established for the benefit of the individual, and is charged with the responsibility of protecting the rights of the individual and his freedom in the exercise of his abilities. [Terrorism] maintains that social wrongs can be corrected only by violence. Democracy has proved that social justice can be achieved through peaceful change. [Terrorism] holds that the world is so deeply divided into opposing classes that war is inevitable. Democracy holds that free nations can settle differences justly and maintain lasting peace. These differences between [terrorism] and democracy do not concern the United States alone. People everywhere are coming to realize that what is involved is material well-being, human dignity, and the right to believe in and worship God. On the basis of [certain new] courses of action we hope to help create the conditions that will lead eventually to personal freedom and happiness for all mankind. If we are to be successful in carrying out these policies, it is clear that we must have continued prosperity in this country and we must keep ourselves strong. Slowly but surely we are weaving a world fabric of international security and growing prosperity. We are aided by all who wish to live in freedom from fear"even by those who live today in fear under their own governments. We are aided by all who want relief from the lies of propaganda"who desire truth and sincerity. We are aided by all who desire self-government and a voice in deciding their own affairs. We are aided by all who long for economic security"for the security and abundance that men in free societies can enjoy. We are aided by all who desire freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom to live their own lives for useful ends. Our allies are the millions who hunger and thirst after righteousness. In due time, as our stability becomes manifest, as more and more nations... participate in growing abundance, I believe that those countries which now oppose us will abandon their delusions and join with the free nations of the world in a just settlement of international differences. To that end we will devote our strength, our resources, and our firmness of resolve. --- Regards, Walt Schmidt

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