The Archivist: 1944 column reminds us of reasons to fly flags this week

Mary Phillips: This Edith Johnson column appeared in The Oklahoman on June 13, 1944, at the beginning of Flag Week.
By Mary Phillips, For The Oklahoman Published: June 9, 2014
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70 years ago, the battles that began with the June 6 D-Day invasion of France still were raging.

Here is part of Edith Johnson’s column that appeared in The Oklahoman on June 13, 1944, at the beginning of Flag Week.

How can anyone say, “We do not know why we are fighting and neither do our men on the fighting fronts of the world,” is almost incomprehensible. Yet persons who supposedly are intelligent and responsible are making those very statements in casual conversation, in the written word and on the air.

If these doubting Thomases do not know what the people of the United States and their allies are fighting for, they ought to have some idea as to what we fight against.

If Germany and Japan’s boastfully avowed determination to conquer the world and reduce the conquered to slavery is not sufficient to arouse the spirit of the American people and impel them to throw everything they have, life, treasure and their sacred honor into the conflict, they must be suffering simultaneously from intellectual blindness and moral palsy. “Give me liberty or give me death” must mean nothing more than words to them.

At no time have Germany and Japan shown a more compelling spirit of generosity than in furnishing us with a long list of things we are bound to fight against: Their mad desire for power, their lying, treachery, barbaric cruelty and obscenity, their determination to turn backward instead of going forward in step with the march of civilization, their practice of grabbing the natural resources belonging to other peoples, ours included, their fiendish efforts to annihilate weaker nations, their pursuit of an insensate policy of racial religious persecution.

If a minority of our people do not find in these threats to their lives, their liberties and their right to pursue happiness in their own way sufficient reasons for fighting against the axis powers, what would they think of a list of reasons for fighting to preserve certain liberties that we have had so long that we almost forgot they were blessings to be dearly cherished. None, perhaps, has set them forth so clearly as Lt. Gen. Brehon Somervell and quoted by Maj. Gen Richard Donavan of the Eighth service command, speaking Friday in the Chamber of Commerce.