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.
“We fight for town meetings,” he said, “for the soapbox in the public square, for the highschool debating team, for open doors to cathedral, church and synagogue. We fight for schools built on a foundation of books not bayonets. We fight for the country editor, for the metropolitan daily, for the editor’s right to say the wrong thing if he thinks it is right. We fight for the right to organize for any decent purpose for labor and for employers; for the Grange and the Legion and the Ladies literary club, for lodge meetings in full regalia.... We fight for our candidate for sheriff and for the other fellow’s candidate; for the right to be sorry we elected him and to say so. We fight for free radio, for the right to listen to what we want and to turn off what we don’t want. We fight for the right to work at jobs of our own choosing; to read books we want to read; to listen to music that pleases us without regard to the race or nationality of the composer. We fight for the high privilege of throwing pop bottles at the umpire. For these things we fight.”
Whenever did a people have so much to fight for, on the one hand, and so much to fight against on the other.
This is Flag Week, and Flag Day is Saturday.
So fly the flag this week and especially on Saturday because our military troops have fought and still fight so that we can!
If you would like to contact Mary Phillips about The Archivist, email her at email@example.com.