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My proudest boast is that I am a citizen of the United States of America, that I, like all of you, belong.
DR. WALTER DAMROSCH, native land, Germany
✦✦✦ Music is the one great international language, and if through music we can create a feeling of universal brotherhood, isn't this just another way to express the ideal of Democracy? And that's what being an American means. Here we do not stop to ask a man what his racial antecedents may be German, French, Italian, Norwegian, English-He is still an American. And so, if a man has a soul for music and learns to love it culturally, his nationality will not matter.
United States Senator JAMES J. DAVIS, native land, Wales
* America is my home, my country. Here I have found opportunity for self-improvement, inspiration for high attainment, courage to do the impossible. All that I am and have belongs to my country. I want to give her strength of arms, clearness of vision, warmth of heart, and the will to go on. The man without a country is a man without a destiny. The man who is true to his country understands the heartbeat of all men. This is our country. May we always cherish and honor, fortify and defend her, and forgetting our differences of the moment let us work together on the areas of our common obligations and unity. In the spirit of good will we shall stand united for victory.
MAJOR ALEXANDER DE SEVERSKY, native land, U. S. S. R.
✦✦✦ The strength of our nation lies in its diversity of people; in the marvelous way that they have adjusted themselves one to another, into a perfect mosaic. That mosaic is cemented by mutual respect, mutual tolerance, a desire to recognize the virtues and talents of individuals without regard to their origins. But by the same token, the most vulnerable phase of American life is in that very mosaic. That is where we can be attacked— by driving a wedge between groups, by making artificial distinctions between first-generation and second-generation Americans, between nativeborn and naturalized. Those who raise such false issues are boring into the very foundations upon which our great nation is built.
GEORGE J. CHRYSSIKOS, address to new citizens
Even a good America can become a better America. And this is precisely the job of young men and young women. Let us not forget also that goodness in this imperfect and ever-evolving world of ours is always found mixed with evil. It is the job of every succeeding American generation to weed out evil from the field of American goodness and to leave the positive elements of the character of this country in a purer and nobler form.
PROF. ALBERT EINSTEIN, native land, Germany
Making allowances for human imperfections, I do feel that in America the most valuable thing in life is possible, the development of the individual and his creative powers. There may be men who can live without political rights and without opportunity of free individual development. But I think that this is intolerable for most Americans. Here, for generations, men have never been under the humiliating necessity of unquestioning obedience. Here human dignity has been developed to such a point that it would be impossible for people to endure life under a system in which the individual is only a slave of the state and has no voice in his government and no decision on his own way of life.
ELISSA LANDI, native land, Austria
* * I said to myself, what an amazing country. Everyone seems to take a real interest in everyone else. That, after all, is Democracy. One thing I'll never forget: When I went to get my final citizenship papers-it was a beautiful experience there were 400 of my co-applicants standing in line and later crowded together in a large room. One little old woman seemed very frightened, on the verge of tears. An official went over to her and patted her on the shoulder and said, "Now, now, mother-take it easy. Nothing to be scared about." And this was to be my country! Imagine a European official comforting an immigrant!
DR. ZOLTAN JOHN FARKAS, native land, Hungary
After our arrival here we very soon realized that the U. S. A. is really a wonderland: It is the first one among the few countries in the world where liberty, justice, democracy, and happiness are not only not empty slogans, but real benefits for all; where the Constitution is still as valid as it was in those days when the people of the U. S. A. ordained and established it in order to secure the blessings of liberty for themselves and their posterity. It was just natural that our next wish could not be other than to become a citizen of this wonderful country.
And now, a few minutes after we solemnly pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States, we have just one more wish, that may God give us a long life, and ability to help at our very best in holding this flag straight up, flying as free and clear forever as it has been doing from the beginning of this country.
WILLIAM KNUDSEN, native land, Denmark
Only Democracy gives a man the opportunity to make as much or as little of himself as he wishes. That's the difference in my mind between Democracy and Totalitarianism, the difference between centralization and decentralization, the State and the individual. My own mental picture of
Democracy shows a country or a city, a community or a factory, a farm or a simple home where justice, care for the sick or weak, and the greatest good for all is obtained with the greatest amount of individual action possible. * *
America is the most emotional country in the world! When people here are told about famines or disasters or war and destruction in other parts of the world, what happens? The children in the little villages start saving their pennies to help. The women in farmhouses and cabins and the homes of workers stop in the midst of their housework to knit socks. In what other country would you find people doing such things for strangers?
Immigrant is just another name for pioneer. We all come here to find independence and self-expression as much as wealth. In the old days the Vikings went forth and sold the shield and sword and battle axe to the service of other men, and were loyal to the men who treated them fairly and squarely. America treats its people decently, protects their constitutional guarantees, gives them a chance to make a living and educate their children; all Americans, whether they're native or foreign-born, will treat America decently in turn.
HENRY MORGENTHAU, SR., native land, Germany
* * American civilization, as it now is, is an amalgam of all that is best in human thought. It is a combination of all the virtues of all the nations that have come to the United States. It is true that their vices also may be there, but the constant boiling and dissolution that goes on in the mixture of the cauldron in which these elements intermingle, cause them to melt first, and solidify afterwards into a fine strong substance, a substance dominated by virtues, for in the boiling process, the dross is thrown off, the unassimilative matter is discarded, and that which is good and fine remains to strengthen the whole. *
PAUL MUNI, native land, Austria
* As long as the political machinery for change and improvement is in the hands of our citizens they have no cause to complain if through their own indifference or ignorance they fail to make use of it to help themselves and their neighbors. The trouble is too many people want to accept without contributing or participating. We need to get onto terms of intimacy with Democracy. It seems to me that some may forget that we are the Government in the United States.
MADAME SCHUMANN-HEINK, native land, Germany
✦✦✦ Blessed Land, America, gave us everything-opportunities, benefits, and, above all, Freedom of heart, mind and soul-she accepted us and trusted us to the fullest extent when we came as strangers to this land, and
even in these troubled times-surely, my sons, surely this is a land worth fighting for!
IGOR SIKORSKY, native land, U. S. S. R.
* Thank God I am here, a free man, breathing free air. No man can order what I do! If I fail I can try again! It takes a naturalized citizen from a less happy country to appreciate what freedom really means. He sees a new world about him, just like a man let out of jail!
* I have lived in other countries. I have seen the alternative, and I want my children and myself to live in this country which is still the land of freedom and opportunity, in which democracy is a real active principle and tradition, not just a name.
LEOPOLD STOKOWSKI, native land, Poland
The place of one's birth is an accident. I have often felt that the foreignborn Americans who, like myself, deliberately chose the country where we would live and do our life work are more than natives of the New World. The very act of transferring our loyalties and destiny to this country demands a faith in its way of life which few native-born Americans are ever called upon to feel.
* Music can overcome hatred and conflict, and bring the poor and rich, the unfortunate and the happy, and the people of all races together in one shared emotion of sympathy and compassion. Music speaks to humanity of the things they have in common, not of the theories or ambitions or ideas on which they disagree. Love, hope, despair, compassion, noble aspirations, sacrifice, happiness, sorrow-these are the subject matter of all great music, and these are the common emotions shared by all human beings alike. Why, the very synonym for Music is harmony! Greed, ambition, suspicion, intolerance, prejudice these are discords and have no place in the world of Music. *
The names of my young players show that they have come from many backgrounds and birthplaces-Poland, Germany, Italy, Greece, Russia—and every one of them good, earnest, loyal Americans! An orchestra is one of the most democratic institutions possible. Everyone has his individual part, yet everyone works together for the whole. We do not ask where a player is born, only whether he is a competent musician. You will not find intolerance or racial prejudice among the members of a great orchestra, or I think among those who listen to great music. The more of these things we have in our national life, the more united we shall be as a nation.
Former U. S. Senator ROBERT F. WAGNER, native land, Germany
* Democracy, after all, means much more than going through the motions of popular government. It is an instrument to foster life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by the people at large in their daily work
ing lives. Men do not struggle to defend something they do not have and to which they cannot aspire. Armaments are essential, of course, to defend our land and our institutions against invasion by any combination of hostile powers. But my point is, democracy cannot be defended by armaments alone.
Those born under a foreign rule with memories of another way of life do not take the privileges and freedoms of democracy lightly or for granted. They came here they left their homes, families, familiar surroundings because they believed that democracy would really provide freedom and opportunity for them and their children. They think of freedom not merely as a word in a patriotic vocabulary but as something to cherish to struggle for-to fight for and defend-and if need be, to die for! It is not often realized that one out of every three persons in our population today is foreign born or the child of a foreign-born parent. Only in a democracy has it been possible for those many races and creeds to live and work in peace, and contribute their full measure toward the common goal of national greatness. Only through renewed devotion to that democratic ideal, can we maintain the national unity which is so essential to the national defense.
KURT WEILL, native land, Germany
Those who come here seeking the freedom, justice, opportunity and human dignity they miss in their own countries are already Americans before they come.
RABBI MORDECAI GLADSTEIN, native land, Poland
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✦✦✦ Though a few who are here have brought happy memories, most of us have come from parts of the world where oppression, persecution, and tragedy drew a curtain of darkness over our lives. How often we dreamed of freedom and the kind of life that is symbolized by America! We had to witness the desecration of our sacred institutions; we saw and we experienced cruelty and unspeakable abuse that destroyed the dignity of human beings. And yet, out of this dark despair, we have had the great good fortune to come into the sunlight and warmth of America. How truly our sages spoke when they said: "If there were no darkness, we would not appreciate the light."
As American citizens, we now stand by the side of all those other Americans who have helped to build this country. They, too, were immigrants in their time, since the days of the Pilgrim fathers. It will be our responsibility to pay for the privilege of citizenship with loyalty, devotion, and work, so that we also can help to build and continue to support a strong, fine, and free America.