November 10, 2011
Liberty to me means a lot of important things–and a lot of little things, too. Important things like Valley Forge, Gettysburg, the Alamo, Verdun, the Meuse, Arragone and Pearl Harbor–things like the Constitution, allegiance to the flag, the Monroe Doctrine, the inalienable rights of every man, whatever color or creed, to do anything he darn pleases, as long as he doesn’t infringe upon the rights of others–the right to live and love and laugh and worship as I please without being slapped around and told to do this or do that. It means being able to wake up every morning with sunshine in my eyes, light that shines on free men everywhere with the same opportunities I have. It means everything we’ve been taught through years of school–justice, equality, tolerance, and most important of all, a chance to be somebody and to do something really worthwhile.
Liberty means little things like hamburgers, chocolate marshmallow nut sundaes, being able to drive as far as I please, being able to go with the girl I love and not wonder how long it’ll be before I’ll be living in memories again. It means being able to visit with the folks back home, talk with my friends and know that they’ll always be there and not scattered all over the world on some foreign battle field. It means buying things at the store without figuring up the points it’s going to cost, getting a pair of shoes without stamp 17, thinking in terms of peace instead of war. . . .
Those are just a few of the things that liberty and this war mean to me. We’ve fought for liberty before in 1776 and 1812. We fought to keep unity in 1865, for liberty and democracy in 1917, and now in 1943 we’re fighting for everything we’ve lived for and thought worthwhile. All down through the years men have fought and died for what they thought was right. And now it’s my turn to fight for the things I love. I don’t figure on dying–a fellow can’t fight when he’s dead. If I were to give a toast I’d say: Here’s to you Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin, U.S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, Admiral Dewey, General Pershing and Douglas MacArthur. And here’s to you, Johnny Jones and Bill Roberts, Jack O’Malley and every boy who’s fighting for the cause of liberty. And here’s to the girls we leave behind. May they love us, laugh with us, and wait for us. (MSS 2350)