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Chapter 9

Quotations on the

SPIRIT AND MEANING OF AMERICANISM

THINGS THAT MAKE AMERICA GREAT

It is a government which holds that government is made for man and not man for the government, that government is the servant of the people and not the master.

It is a government in which the original and final authority resides in the people.

It is a government based upon the principle that its first duty is to protect the life, liberty, and happiness of the people.

It is a government of law and order, providing for liberty under the law.

It is a government which guarantees to all persons the civil liberties and rights accorded to any one person.

It is a government of officials chosen by the people—a government by representatives—a republic rather than a pure democracy.

It is a government in which office is not the special privilege of any hereditary class.

It is a government by the majority—a majority held in restraint by constitutional checks, in order that the rights of minorities may be safeguarded

It is a government in which the minority has the right to criticize and agitate for peaceful change. It is one in which the minority may grow into the majority.

It is a government based upon the idea that the secret ballot is a better way than bullets to bring about changes. The way to correct the mistakes of one election is through ballots at succeeding elections.

It is a government which weighs all votes equally, through free and fair elections.

It is a government of limited powers, the people reserving the right to increase or decrease those powers. .

It is a government of divided authority and responsibility_divided between the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary and between the national, State, and local governments.

It is a government fundamentally different in principle and operation from totalitarian and dictatorial governments. It is a government by debate and agreement rather than by arbitrary decree. It rests more on reason than on force.

It is a government concerned with the establishment of justice, the promotion of the general welfare, the right of private property, and the social provision for security, freedom, and opportunity for all.

It is a government which provides the means for its own modification and growth

It is a government which, more than any other form, requires for its most effective operation the assumption by every citizen of his fair share of responsibility. Democracy requires individual morality, common sense, and courage in its citizens.

HOWARD E. WILSON, NELLE E. BOWMAN, ALLEN Y. KING. (Excerpt from THIS AMERICA—OUR LAND, OUR PEOPLE, OUR FAITH, OUR DEFENSE. American Book Co. New York. 1942.)

THANK GOD, I'M AN AMERICAN!

All of us should turn our thoughts occasionally to that adventurous group of our ancestors who set aside a day each year for Thanksgiving. Anyone who has stood on the windswept coast at Plymouth where the hard black granite of New England yields as slowly to the hoe and the plow as it does to the restless beating of a tireless sea, can well wonder what the Pilgrims had to be thankful for. On the one side, it was only an arrow's flight to a wilderness filled with savages. On the other, it was three months' sailing to the comforts of civilization. There was hunger to the point of starvation. Yet the humble survivors of both knelt and fervently thanked God. For what? Not for well-filled cupboards and bursting granaries. But for the courage to face temporary adversity, for confidence in the future, for faith in ultimate achievement of the ideals that led them to the New World.

The remembrance of those ragged, hungry colonists devoutly expressing gratitude because their lives had been spared toward the achievement of a bright vision, ought to bring shame to the hearts of present day prophets of gloom. There is no doubt that many of us labor today under a yoke of hardship. There is unemployment and injustice and crime and intolerance and bitter disappointment and even hunger in America. The ravages of war abroad have shaken our hopes. Frustrated by these misfortunes some are ready to curse God and let the vision die. They clamor for a "new order," for a new migration to uncharted political shores—to start all over again toward human happiness and freedom under the guidance of ideals radically different from those which inspired our forefathers. Those who take such counsel of despair would do well to count those blessings already achieved by the American way, and, without relaxing efforts to wipe out the causes

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of misery and suffering which still oppress us, to hold fast to what has already been gained.

AMERICAN IDEALS OF EQUALITY

We have many real advantages for which to be thankful. I thank God I was not born into a caste system that places one human being either above or below

any

of his fellows. I inherited no aristocratic rank of duke or lord that entitles me to special privilege of any sort; nor was I doomed to serfdom or peasantry by the accident of birth. It was one of the first concepts of American government "that all men are created equal." There may be some in this country who have assumed special privilege, but their right to it may be challenged at any time by anybody.

FREE SCHOOLS MEAN FREE PEOPLE

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I thank God for the American schools that made available to me a share in the intellectual and cultural heritage of mankind. Education has checked and will eventually defeat tyranny wherever it manifests itself in this land. Free schools are the only guarantee of a free people; they are the only means whereby every individual may prepare himself for whatever achievement and service he is capable. Adequate educational opportunity is now denied millions of youth, it is true, but a fair start in life for every child is an American ideal toward which we have been steadily moving for a century. All the forces of greed and special interest will not prevent the full attainment of this ideal.

FREEDOM OF OCCUPATION

I thank God for American freedom to earn a living in a job I myself selected. No social traditions dictated that I should follow the occupation of my father. No

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of the state told me where or at what I must labor. The option was wholly my own, and I was given abundant opportunity to prepare for the profession of my choice. All of us are aware of the fact that the machine, in combination with economic factors, prevents millions of workmen today from practicing vocations for which they have trained themselves. Yet who can doubt that the inventive genius which created the machine is able to adjust the earnings of human livelihood to its use? Who has reason to believe that the same genius cannot or will not perfect an economic system in which honest toil may win its share of a material abundance that exceeds anything the world has ever known?

FREEDOM OF SPEECH, ASSEMBLY, AND PRESS

I thank God for American rights—for the right to think; to speak; to write and to print what I think; for the right of peaceable assembly to discuss with

my fellows the way out of difficulties which harass me as an individual or beset us collectively as a people; for the right to protest and to petition those in authority for the removal of grievances and of obstacles to the happiness and welfare of my family and my neighbors; for the right to subscribe to any creed in which I believe and to worship as seems to me most fitting. I am grateful for the right to uncover truth and to proclaim it, even at the discomfiture of intrenched privilege or in opposition to stoutly defended party doctrine. I am glad to have these rights guaranteed to me in the most sacred instrument of our government—the fundamental law of the land—so they cannot be taken from me by pretext or annulled at the will of some dictator. I count it one of the greatest of blessings that I can exercise these rights without fear of secret police, concentration camps, or exile from my country. I can rest assured that my every act is not under suspicion. There are no spies to tap my telephone wires, to see that my radio is not tuned to forbidden wave lengths, or that I read only the literature which has been approved and prescribed for me by those who consider themselves my betters.

NATIONAL IDEALS

I am proud to live in a land that recognizes no discrimination on account of race or color or political antecedents, and supports no pretense that a certain shade of hair or eyes betokens a superman before whom less favored individuals should bend the knee. I count it good fortune to live under a government that exists for me and my fellow citizens, where no one considers that my only reason for living is to serve a monster called a "totalitarian state.”

I thank God that the Stars and Stripes is not a mere battle flag symbolizing military conquest over other nations, but that it signifies every kind of worthy achievement for which men strive. That bright banner unites us in common endeavor against misery and poverty, ignorance and vice, disease and suffering. Our nation's heroes include not only its great soldiers, but its great statesmen, its scientists and teachers, its artists and craftsmen, its poets and preachers and philosophers who have served humanity in its great crises, whether of bread or of the spirit. The millions of children in the nation's classrooms who turn their happy faces toward the flag every morning pledge allegiance to the law and order, to the personal integrity, and to the unselfish service of humanity for which that banner stands.

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HUMAN RIGHTS STILL SACRED

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And I thank God I'm an American. All may not be right with America. There is still with us some of the social injustice and pestilence to the removal of which we dedicated ourselves as a young nation. But the fundamental human rights which are the essence of Americanism are still held sacred by our people and by our responsible leaders. We have all—and much more than the Pilgrim fathers expected to secure for their posterity in the New World. And as we memorialize their first Thanksgiving, so devoutly offered because they had escaped the religious bigotry and international jealousies of the Old World, every one of us can say with even more meaning and fervor than the Pilgrims said, “Thank God, I'm an American."

WILLARD E. GIVENS. (THANK GOD, I'M AN AMERICAN. The American Citizens Handbook. 1941. Wash. ington, D. C.)

AMERICANISM

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Americanism is an abiding faith in the correctness and justice of the principles contained in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights.

Americanism is a way of life based on this abiding faith. It is a willing. ness'to live in peace and harmony with our fellow men regardless of political or religious faiths.

Americanism is a willingness to apply the principles of free speech, free press and the freedom to worship God to our fellow man even when their ideas and speech and methods of worship are opposed to our own.

Americanism is a willingness to live for the principles of America in peacetime as well as a willingness to die for American principles in wartime.

Americanism brings to each American, liberty under law and a regard for law, which means liberty and happiness for all.

K. L. BROWN. (A winning essay written in 1939 on Americanism in the Elks' National Patriotism program, Youngstown, Ohio.)

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