A celebration of one of the most unsung inventions in history.
May 09, 2012
What does America owe the rest of the world?
Imagine the dimensions it took on in 1941, when most of Europe had been overrun by Hitler, England was hanging on for dear life, and the United States, ever wary of foreign entanglements, had yet to commit itself.
Aiming at isolationists who continued to insist that America was right to steer clear of foreign intervention, Ickes argued that our reverence for liberty was meaningless if the country lacked the courage and conviction to defend freedom elsewhere.
In part, what he said:
What constitutes an American?
Not color nor race nor religion. Not the pedigree of his family nor the place of his birth. Not the coincidence of his citizenship. Not his social status nor his bank account. Not his trade nor his profession. An American is one who loves justice and believes in the dignity of man. An American is one who will fight for his freedom and that of his neighbor. An American is one who will sacrifice property, ease and security in order that he and his children may retain the rights of free men. An American is one in whose heart is engraved the immortal second sentence of the Declaration of Independence.
In 1941, it was a moral obligation to directly confront Hitler, whose concentration camps were already public knowledge and aims toward the American continent were becoming increasingly clear.
And what of today, when the goals, techniques and very identity of our enemies are more amorphous and the end results of American intervention are far from clear?
A difficult question, in an increasingly complex world.