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lovers and their sons cannot fail, as long as beside the hearthstones stand such wives and mothers. And we have many, many such women; and their men are like unto them.
No nation can be great unless its sons and daughters have in them the quality to rise level to the needs of heroic days; and yet such spirit will in the long run avail nothing unless in the years of peace the average man and average woman of the duty-performing type realize that the highest of all duties, the one essential duty, is the duty of perpetuating the family life, based on the mutual love and respect of the one man and the one woman, and on their purpose to rear the healthy and fine-souled children whose coming into life means that the family, and therefore the nation, shall continue in life and shall not end in a sterile death.
Woe to those who invite a sterile death; a death not for them only, but for the race; the death which is insured by a life of sterile selfishness.
But honor, highest honor, to those who fearlessly face death for a good cause; no life is so honorable or so fruitful as such a death. Unless men are willing to fight and die for great ideals, including love of country, ideals will vanish, and the world will become one huge sty of materialism. And unless the women of ideals bring forth the men who are ready thus to live and die, the world of the future will be filled by the spawn of the unfit. Alone of human beings the good and wise mother stands on a plane of equal honor with the bravest soldier; for she has gladly gone down to the brink of the chasm of darkness to bring back the children in whose hands rests the fu
ture of the years. But the mother, and far more the father, who flinch from the vital task earn the scorn visited on the soldier who flinches in battle. And the nation should by action mark its attitude alike toward the fighter in war and toward the child-bearer in peace and war. The vital need of the nation is that its men and women of the future shall be the sons and daughters of the soldiers of the present. Excuse no man from going to war because he is married; but put all unmarried men above a fixed age at the hardest and most dangerous tasks; and provide amply for the children of soldiers, so as to give their wives the assurance of material safety.
In such a matter one can only speak in general terms. At this moment there are hundreds of thousands of gallant men eating out their hearts because the privilege of facing death in battle is denied them. So there are innumerable women and men whose undeserved misfortune it is that they have no children or but one child. These soldiers denied the perilous honor they seek, these men and women heart-hungry for the children of their longing dreams, are as worthy of honor as the men who are warriors in fact, as the women whose children are of flesh and blood. If the only son who is killed at the front has no brother because his parents coldly dreaded to play their part in the Great Adventure of Life, then our sorrow is not for them, but solely for the son who himself dared the Great Adventure of Death. If, however, he is the only son because the Unseen Powers denied others to the love of his father and mother, then we mourn doubly with them because their darling went up to the sword of Azrael, because he drank the dark drink proffered by the Death Angelo
In America to-day all our people are summoned to service and sacrifice. Pride is the portion only of those who know bitter sorrow or the foreboding of bitter sorrow. But all of us who give service, and stand ready for sacrifice, are the torch-bearers. We run with the torches until we fall, content if we can then pass them to the hands of other runners. The torches whose flame is brightest are borne by the gallant men at the front, and by the gallant women whose husbands and lovers, whose sons and brothers are at the front. These men are high of soul, as they face their fate on the shellshattered earth, or in the skies above or in the waters beneath; and no less high of soul are the women with torn hearts and shining eyes; the girls whose boy lovers have been struck down in their golden morning, and the mothers and wives to whom word has been brought that henceforth they must walk in the shadow.
These are the torch-bearers; these are they who have dared the Great Adventure.1
1 From The Great Adventure. Copyright, 1918. Charles Scribner's Sons, publishers.
I MEN can never escape being governed. Either they must govern themselves or they must submit to being governed by others. If from lawlessness or fickleness, from folly or self-indulgence, they refuse to govern themselves, then most assuredly in the end they will have to be governed from the outside. They can prevent the need of government from without only by showing that they possess the power of government from within. A sovereign cannot make excuses for his failures; a sovereign must accept the responsibility for the exercise of the power that inheres in him; and where, as is true in our Republic, the people are sovereign, then the people must show a sober understanding and a sane and steadfast purpose if they are to preserve that orderly liberty upon which as a foundation every republic must rest."
II THERE used to be in the army an old proverb that there were no bad regiments, but plenty of bad colonels. So in private life I have grown to believe that if you always
1 Speech at the Opening of the Jamestown Exposition, April 26, 1907.
find bad servants in a household you want to look out for the mistress. I wonder if you grasp just what I mean by that? If you always find bad public servants, look out for the public! We here - you my hearers and I live in a government where we are the people and in consequence where we are not to be excused if the government goes wrong. There are many countries where the government can be very wrong indeed and where nevertheless it can be said that the people are fundamentally right, for they don't choose their public servants, they don't choose their government. On the contrary we do choose our government, not temporarily but permanently, and in the long run our public servants must necessarily be what we choose to have them. They represent us; they must represent our self-restraint and sense of decency and common sense, or else our folly, our wickedness, or at least our supine indifference in letting others do the work of government for us. Not only should we have the right type of public servants, but we should remember that the wrong type discredits not only the man himself but each of us whose servant he is. Sometimes I hear our countrymen inveigh against politicians; I hear our countrymen abroad saying, “Oh, you must n't judge us by our politicians." I always want to interrupt and answer, “You must judge us by our politicians.” We pretend to be the masters - we, the people - and if we permit ourselves to be ill served, to be served by corrupt and incompetent and inefficient men, then on our own heads must the blame rest.1
1 Permission to use this excerpt granted by The Harr Wagner Publishing Company, publishers of Theodore Roosevelt's Realizablo Ideals.