Address at the Unveiling of a Memorial Carillon in Arlington National Cemetery

December 21, 1949

Here in Arlington National Cemetery, in the presence of our war dead, we have come to consecrate a carillon.

In their nightly hymn, the bells of the carillon will sing of our faith in the kinship of man and God. Each time they sing that faith, they will proclaim our compact with the veterans of our Nation’s wars who gave their lives that our faith might endure.

Our American heritage of human freedom is born of the belief that man is created in the image of God and therefore is capable of governing himself. We have created here a government dedicated to the dignity and the freedom of man. It is a government whose creed is derived from the word of God, and its roots are deep in our spiritual foundations. Our democracy is an expression of faith in the spirit of man, and it is a declaration of faith in man as created by God.

On these spiritual foundations we have established a creed of self-government more precious to us than life itself. These soldier graves are a testament to this creed, for these men died for it. While freedom prevails, we–the living–shall keep our compact with these dead. And as long as this Government remains rooted in the dignity of man and in his kinship with God, freedom will prevail.

If man could achieve self-government and kinship with his God throughout the world, peace would not tremble in the constant dread of war. Mankind is exhausted from the ordeal of conflict. All men are sick of blood-letting and hunger, and weary of the troubles suffered for so many years. If we could mobilize world opinion among all men who walk the earth, there would never be another war.

This we cannot do alone. For the earth is deeply divided between free and captive peoples. There is no appeal to the brotherhood of men who live in daily fear of the concentration camp. Until the captive peoples of the world emerge from darkness, they cannot see the hand we hold out in friendship. While they are made to respond to our handclasp with a mailed fist, we have no choice but to stand ready in self-defense.

Much as we prize peace and friendship, we prize freedom more. And much as we trust in God, while He is rejected by so many in the world, we must trust also in ourselves. In an age where peace must be protected, we must resort to our own strength to hold aggression at bay. When good will prevails and peace comes to the earth, it will come because we have had the resolution to hold fast through perilous times, and we have had the courage to share our resources with other nations who believe in freedom. By generous sharing of our material goods in the past few years, we have restored to many peoples faith in themselves, faith in their freedom, faith in the certain triumph of confidence over fear. Just as long as we continue to face our world responsibilities with the courage and realism we have already shown, we shall deserve the right to hope–and work–for lasting peace.

Meanwhile, our efforts in search of peace and security have not spared us problems at home. Not only do the security needs of our Nation seem at times to be in competition with social progress, but the attention we must give to weapons of defense may obscure the fact that the real basis of our strength is a strong and active faith in freedom. As long as freedom remains a force for human welfare, men will cherish it in their hearts and defend it with their lives. In this present-day world where man’s personal independence is cramped by the complexities of his economic existence, it is the duty of government to see that each citizen does not lose faith in his ability to provide freely by his efforts for his own welfare. We have revived the belief of free peoples in themselves in many foreign countries; and we must continue to safeguard at home the belief in ourselves and belief in freedom as the greatest force for human welfare.

This is an age where faith in one’s self, faith in freedom, faith in the kinship of man and God, are more important to our survival than all the mighty armaments of war.

As these bells ring out their hymns, they will proclaim that message of faith. As long as they ring, these honored dead may rest.

While faith lives, so does freedom.

While freedom lives, so does hope of a just and lasting peace.

NOTE: The President spoke at 3 p.m. at the dedication of the National Evening Hymn Memorial Carillon presented to the Nation by the AMVETS National Service Foundation.

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