Friday, August 12, 2005

Port Hole Man

The first time I ever saw a TV, it was across the street from my home on Milam Street. I remember walking into the living room of Mr. Jupe, who owned a company that made springs for cars. He always drove Chryslers, and in those days, they were a thing to behold. The fins were sweeping and shiny to the eyes of the young child I was.

I remember standing in the living room looking at this large blonde cabinet with a small port hole in it. Inside the port hole was a black and white moving picture of a bald man talking.

"Who is that man?"

That's the President, Mr. Jupe said.

On April 16, 1953, President Eisenhower, addressed the American Society of Newspaper Editors. The Speech is often called the Cross of Iron speech

It was a troubled time.

The nation was at war in Asia.

Our adversary had developed its own nuclear weapons.

Grave issues faced this country and the World and this War General turned Republican President knew that it was time for leadership, not vain words designed to appeal to some base of support or fatuous ideas designed to play well on national media.

Here is an edited version of the President's address.

"In this spring of 1953 the free world weighs one question above all others: the chance for a just peace for all peoples.

Today the hope of free men remains stubborn and brave, but it is sternly disciplined by experience. It shuns not only all crude counsel of despair but also the self-deceit of easy illusion.

The way chosen by the United States was plainly marked by a few clear precepts, which govern its conduct in world affairs.

First: No people on earth can be held, as a people, to be enemy, for all humanity shares the common hunger for peace and fellowship and justice.

Second: No nation's security and well-being can be lastingly achieved in isolation but only in effective cooperation with fellow-nations.

Third: Any nation's right to form of government and an economic system of its own choosing is inalienable.

Fourth: Any nation's attempt to dictate to other nations their form of government is indefensible.

And fifth: A nation's hope of lasting peace cannot be firmly based upon any race in armaments but rather upon just relations and honest understanding with all other nations.

What can the world, or any nation in it, hope for if no turning is found on this dread road?

The worst to be feared and the best to be expected can be simply stated.

The worst is atomic war.

The best would be this: a life of perpetual fear and tension; a burden of arms draining the wealth and the labor of all peoples; a wasting of strength that defies the American system or the Soviet system or any system to achieve true abundance and happiness for the peoples of this earth.

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms in not spending money alone.

It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.

It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.

It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.

We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat.

We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense.

Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

These plain and cruel truths define the peril and point the hope that come with this spring of 1953.

This is one of those times in the affairs of nations when the gravest choices must be made, if there is to be a turning toward a just and lasting peace.

It is a moment that calls upon the governments of the world to speak their intentions with simplicity and with honesty.

It calls upon them to answer the questions that stirs the hearts of all sane men: is there no other way the world may live?

To this end we would welcome and enter into the most solemn agreements.

These could properly include:

The limitation, by absolute numbers or by an agreed international ratio, of the sizes of the military and security forces of all nations.

A commitment by all nations to set an agreed limit upon that proportion of total production of certain strategic materials to be devoted to military purposes. International control of atomic energy to promote its use for peaceful purposes only and to insure the prohibition of atomic weapons.

A limitation or prohibition of other categories of weapons of great destructiveness.

The enforcement of all these agreed limitations and prohibitions by adequate safe-guards, including a practical system of inspection under the United Nations.

The details of such disarmament programs are manifestly critical and complex. Neither the United States nor any other nation can properly claim to possess a perfect, immutable formula. But the formula matters less than the faith-the good faith without which no formula can work justly and effectively.

The fruit of success in all these tasks would present the world with the greatest task, and the greatest opportunity, of all.

It is this: the dedication of the energies, the resources, and the imaginations of all peaceful nations to a new kind of war. This would be a declared total war, not upon any human enemy but upon the brute forces of poverty and need.

The peace we seek, founded upon decent trust and cooperative effort among nations, can be fortified, not by weapons of war but by wheat and by cotton, by milk and by wool, by meat and by timber and by rice.

These are words that translate into every language on earth.

These are needs that challenge this world in arms.

This Government is ready to ask its people to join with all nations in devoting a substantial percentage of the savings achieved by disarmament to a fund for world aid and reconstruction.

The purposes of this great work would be to help other peoples to develop the underdeveloped areas of the world, to stimulate profitability and fair world trade, to assist all peoples to know the blessings of productive freedom.

The monuments to this new kind of war would be these: roads and schools, hospitals and homes, food and health.

We are ready, in short, to dedicate our strength to serving the needs, rather than the fears, of the world.

There is, before all peoples, a precious chance to turn the black tide of events. If we failed to strive to seize this chance, the judgment of future ages would be harsh and just.

The purpose of the United States, in stating these proposals, is simple and clear.

These proposals spring, without ulterior purpose or political passion, from our calm conviction that the hunger for peace is in the hearts of all peoples--those of Russia and of China no less than of our own country.

They conform to our firm faith that God created men to enjoy, not destroy, the fruits of the earth and of their own toil.

They aspire to this: the lifting, from the backs and from the hearts of men, of their burden of arms and of fears,

so that they may find before them a golden age of freedom and of peace."

I thought about rewriting this speech to fit today's issues.

I thought about writing a speech for the president

to bring the world together to combat

Peak Oil, Climate Change, and the ravages they will bring.

But it's not necessary.

These words speak as clearly today,

as they did when I was little boy.

That man in the port hole cared deeply about Peace.

Because he knew the horrors of War all too well.

Our man is just in a hole.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this timely and inspiring speech. Reading it now, in such stark contrast to the present president, makes me feel really good about standing at parade ready beside the presidential cortege in San Antonio waving my little flag chanting "I Like Ike." The whole school was there.
We got our first television set in 1946, which is when, I later learned, there were only 15,000 TVs in America. It looked like a Bendix washer in the living room. Gramma and I watched the ball fall in Times Square on New Years. I was four years old.

12:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It makes me wonder what has happened to the Republicans? And to the democrats too for that matter.

8:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with FM, this so lovely. Thank you for the hope and the history.

8:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." Such a nostalgia rose up in me for the kind of leadership that could imagine the needs of the people of the rest of the world to be as important as our own. This post is an exquisite reminder of kinder gentler times. It brings with it hope and a resolve to keep working for change.

There is a snapshot emblazoned in my mind of my sisters and I sitting around the brand new t.v.

It was a deco looking blonde box with the small port-hole. We were one of the first in our neighborhood to have one.

8:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I am enriched and inspired by this quote.

Thank you.

Peace, Profit, Passion,


8:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just reading this build my faith in the possibility of a future with real leaders, instead of the crack pot crap we have now.

11:52 AM  

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