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Commander in Chief HERRICK. Comrades, I now have the great privilege of presenting to you the best friend we have ever had in the Senate of the United States, Senator Bursum, of New Mexico. [Applause, the audience rising.]
Former United States Senator BURSUM. Commander, veterans of the Spanish-American War, it goes without saying that I am very grateful for this opportunity of being with you, and words fail me to express adequately my appreciation and my gratitude for the splendid reception you have seen fit to accord me. It must be a reminder of the old days for you boys-I call you “boys” because your commander said he was only 19 when he entered the service and he was 19 to-day—you are still boys, assembled down here in the sunny South, close to the point of disembarkment whence, in 1898, you initiated your journey to carry the message to Garcia. And you carried it well and magnificently. You brought back the bacon. You brought back what you went down after just as Americans do everywhere, and the country would have been disappointed had you not made the magnificent victory that you did at San Juan Hill and Santiago. [Applause.]
But that was a short campaign. It was a short war. It was short because you went over there in American fashion and not with the intention of killing time but with the avowed intention, determination, and purpose to accomplish the job for which you went over-to banish the Spaniards from Cuba; to give to those peoples of Cuba a free government; to give them liberty; to give them the opportunity of pursuit of happiness, just as we enjoy it here in the United States; to extend the boundaries of liberty, American liberty, and we Americans understand the terms “liberty” and “ freedom ”; to extend the principles which we estab ished by the men who were our forefathers during the Revolutionary period of this country. You did more than that. You made the United States a great country when you sent Cervera back to Spain and drove the Spanish army of tyranny and oppression out of Cuba. That was a war neither for conquest nor for gain; it was an unselfish American desire to carry forward the spirit of liberty to the human race.
The Americans have always been noted for their love for humanity. That is why they are willing to fight without compensation, to fight for the right as the men fought at Chateau Thierry on the lands of France, in the Argonne and Belleau Wood, when our boys went over there and drove the Huns back. The United States never asked for one penny of indemnity. It was a matter of principle.
That was the logical sequence, growing out of the results which were brought back by you in your service and sacrifice in 1898.
You are the only volunteer army-all volunteers-none of you were drafted-in the history of America. You all came in because you wanted to come in, and let me say now, the Army that went to ihat war represented the flower of American citizenship everywhere in this country. Rich and poor alike, you marched together and accomplished the spreading of American principles in that country.
Friends, you had a sacred trust to perform at that time. You were charged with the duty of carrying that message to Garcia. Since you have concluded the activities of the war in which you enlisted you are confronted with the obligations that belong to every American citizen, the duty of performing your part toward uphold
ing the principles for which you fought. It is the public duty of every citizen to take part in the affairs concerning the Government of his country; to participate in the deliberations which are to decide and define policies.
You are also particularly charged with the sacred duty of promoting the rights and privileges of your comrades and especially those who were disabled in the service and physically unable to take care of themselves. This duty becomes more exacting when it relates to dependents, the wives and children of your comrades who died as a result of the service.
To my mind and view of thinking, the Nation's policy toward the veterans of the country constitutes a solemn obligation upon the part of the Government to see to it that no defender who shall have suffered by reason of service, or his dependent, his children, his widow, shall not fail to be compensated at least to the extent that there shall be no suffering from the want of necessities of life, opportunity for education in such measure as will permit the children of a veteran to become a part of our most enlightened citizenship. In other words, no handicap shall be imposed either upon the veteran or his dependents on account of his war service which will preclude a reasonable opportunity to meet the problems of life upon an equality with any citizen of the country.
While these are my notions regarding the obligations which rightfully impose upon our Government, let us not forget that policies of Government are controlled and put in effect by the force of public opinion, and in order to bring about a compliance in such manner as we may deem proper on the part of the Government, it is essential to cultivate public opinion by an enlightened policy of education; that the average citizen be thoroughly advised as to actual conditions and needs. I know of no agency better situated for this task than your organization. No other agency possesses a better moral right than your organization to go to the country and advocate liberal and just policies in behalf of your comrades and their dependents who stand in need and are entitled as a matter of right and justice. You are equipped to do this. You have the organization. Among your number may be found the finest talent of the Nation; from your ranks the country has many times chosen public servants. Many of your comrades have been selected as governors of their respective States. One of our distinguished Americans who served as colonel of the “Rough Riders,” a regiment largely made up from the West, including New Mexico, Arizona, and Oklahoma, became President of the United States, and during his service in civil activities was probably responsible for a greater measure of human progress than any other occupant of the White House considering the length of service. The principles which he advocated will live for centuries as accomplishments upon the pages of American history. I refer to
I Col. Theodore Roosevelt.
Don't tell me that you do not possess the implements with which to obtain what you want. You can not get what you want by merely asking for it. You must fight for it and use your resources; your mental faculties. Get into the game; convert public opinion to your side of the question; take the citizenship of the Nation into your confidence; tell them the story of your case and remember that a righteous cause intelligently presented will never fail, and in my opinion, when the citizenship of this country know the tru-h you will find them back of you 100 per cent. Such a procedure is human; it is good sense; it is wise discretion. It represents a spirit of hu
a manity; it is conducive to the perpetuity of the Nation which of necessity under our form of Government must rely upon its citizenship to have available and ready for action whenever the need may Present itself of furnishing and equipping an adequate national defense to such extent that no foreign enemy will dare to trespass upon our rights. [Applause.]
In my opinion such adequate defense can be made only upon the basis of good will and a spirit of patriotism among our citizenship. It is the spirit of the man behind the gun that wins the battle. If we are to be successful we must lend the encouragement that brings this sort of mentality into a living reality. We all love our country; we would all delight to see this Nation perpetuated as the leader of the nations of the earth, but when the time of need suddenly arrives and mobilizations are called for, what is the natural thing that occurs to the mind of the average person? “Yes; I am willing to die for my country but what is going to become of my children, iný iny widow, if I am taken away or disabled?” That is what the average man will ask himself. But if we have established a policy that will enable the citizen about to enlist to say, “I know my Government will take care of my wife and children if anything happens to me,” he will be much more willing to make the sacrifice. On tho other hand, if this Government has denied and refused to take care of veterans and dependents of other wars the average citizen is likely to say, “I would like to go but my obligations and ties to my loved ones, my wife, children, and dependents, constitutes a sacred obligation on my part, and to my way of thinking my first duty is to look after them.” Then if it is necessary to take this man into the service you are enlisting an unwilling soldier. So I say that from a purely selfish proposition, it is a sound policy for the country to properly care for the defenders of the Nation and their dependents.
Furthermore, the average American is for equality. He likes a square deal, a fair fight. He does not believe in handing out the cards from under the deck. He would like to see them on the table; he would like to see everyone get his just dues, and for the life of me I can not see any difference should exist as to the fellow who is wounded in battle, loses an arm or a leg or is maimed, whether or nct the wound was caused from a bullet coming from a Spanish gun or whether it came from the gun of a Hun or from an Indian on the warpath or from any other enemy. [Applause.]. What is the Jifference? Those lead bullets don't care who they hit and I say
all should have the same rate of compensation, the same measiire of protection in proportion to the disability under similar circumstances and conditions.
Furthermore, a pension is not a charity nor a donation nor a gift, but it constitutes a right and obligation incurred at the time of your enlistment for service. [Applause.]
I have tried to pass some bills. They were not perfect, but they were a great improvement on what already existed. The Senate and the Congress concurred that they were right, and, except for
one man, one vote, that bill would be a law to-day. We lacked just one vote of making it a law. That is pretty close. I regret that it did not pass or become a law. It ought to have become law, but it did not. But that should spur you on to further activities. There is nothing to a man who gets discouraged because he is knocked down once in a while, but what you have to do in my judgment, is to get into this game, the game of your country, the American game, and take up the cause of your comrades just the same as you take up any other cause that you carry to the bar of public opinion.
Get into the primaries and the conventions and the national conventions and State conventions; get on the resolutions committees and write your declarations of principles and your pledges for the party so that when they are assembled at Washington there can not be any doubt about what you want done.
Now, in order to do these things you ought to increase your or. ganization every time you get a chance. Don't let any veteran stand on the outside, but make him come in. [Applause.] Make him line up just as you lined up when your name was called or when you volunteered to go down to Cuba. Get the women in. You have them now and they are a wonderful help to you, but there are a good many of them that
you haven't got yet. You know that the women vote now, and they are going to put their ballots in the boxes and you can not stop them. Sometimes you do not know how they vote, but they vote and they are in the game and they have brains and ability and are enthusiastic, perhaps more so than the most of us because they are a little newer to the game.
Get as many people as you can, men and women, to support the organization. Make it a large one everywhere and in that way you will get what you want. Use the same tools that you have used here during this convention in the passing of your resolutions and in the election of your officers. Why, in all that you have done here you have displayed miraculous ability. With that genius spread throughout the land, you can do anything you want. You can elect a President and a Congress and a Senate and you can write down the principles which are just and right and fair. You can govern your country. But always
But always be fair; never take advantage of your powers; never be oppressive. You never have been. You have been altogether too modest. [Applause.]
Stand for the right as a matter of principle to all veterans and widows and dependents, and stand for a square deal just as you have always done. Spread a little more propaganda for your organization, get a little more efficiency into the game and get into the
public game as citizens and you will win. Nothing can stop you and when you do win you will be performing a sacred service not only for the defenders of the country but you will be performing a sacred service which will be written down and which will exemplify the power and security of your country and make it impregnable from successful attack by any country on the face of the earth. [Applause.]
While serving in the United States Senate as chairman of the Committee on Pensions, it was my privilege and pleasure of coming in contact and cooperating with your legislative representatives in Washington. I always found them universally fair and considerate.
I first met your past commander, the Hon. Oscar E. Carlstrom, of Illinois. Your next commander with whom I also had the pleasure of cooperating was that dynamic force who never tires, always ready to fight, Past Commander Antonio P. Entenza. Thereafter, it was my privilege to meet and deal with that fine character who also served as your commander, Judge Alcorn of Ohio. [Applause.)
I well remember the incidents preceding the passage of your bill when the Congress was called upon to either sustain or override the presidential veto. Judge Alcorn was in the gallery in the Senate at the time. No man ever worked more faithfully or harder than the judge to make this bill become a law, and no one realizes more than I do how badly he felt when we failed by one vote to muster the two-thirds majority necessary to override the veto. Subsequently, your present distinguished and most able presiding officer, Commander Chauncey W. Herrick, of New York. [Applause.) Commander Herrick was as indefatigable and persistent in his efforts in your behalf as those who preceded him. My experience with your several commanders and legislative leaders has always been very satisfactory. I have found them universally men of conspicuous ability with a spirit of tolerance always present coupled with patriotic consideration for the welfare of the country. But what is needed is a larger field and greater backing from the boys all over the country. It is just as I said, unless you get into the game and get into the primaries and the conventions and the county conventions and the State conventions and national conventions, you will get nothing. If you do go into those conventions and take an active part in them, and you can, you will get everything that you want because I know that you will not demand anything that is not fair and I know that the people of the country will give
you all that is fair.
It makes no difference what the office may be that a man holds if he has not the support of his constituency he can really get nowhere. It is up to you to go out and work energentically for the principles that underlie all your movements and it is up to you to inject your principles in the platforms of the parties who seek election and it is up to you after they are elected to see that those platforms are carried out and the promises so often made in campaigns are kept after the battle of election is over. [Applause.]
Now, my friends, I fear I have taken up more time than I ought to
VOICES FROM THE AUDIENCE. No; go on, Senator, go on!
Senator BURSUM (continuing). You know, after a fellow has served in the United States Senate, he gets into bad habits. You have 'heard of the bombardments down there, and of the smoke that goes through the dome of the Capitol on account of filibuster battles in the Senate, and I have no notion or desire to inflict upon you any such punishment. Now, friends, again I want to thank you for all that you have done
I want to assure you that so long as I am capacitated I will fight for your rights because I believe them to be just and right, and it will make no difference [applause) whether I am in the Senate (applause] or out of the Senate--my wings may be temporarily