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United States Department of State / Papers relating to the foreign relations of the United States, 1918
(1918)

Wilson, Woodrow
Address of the President, December 2, 1918,   pp. IX-XVIII PDF (3.4 MB)


Page X

 X ADDRESS OF THE PRESIDENT 
hind them. No soldiers or sailors ever proved themselves more quickly ready
for the test of battle or acquitted themselves with more splendid courage
and achievement when put to the test. Those of us who played some part in
directing the great processes by which the war was pushed irresistibly forward
to the final triumph may now forget all that and delight our thoughts with
the story of what our men did. Their officers understood the grim and exacting
task they had undertaken and performed it with an audacity, efficiency, and
unhesitating courage that touch the story of convoy and battle with imperishable
distinction at every turn, whether the enterprise were great or small—from
their great chiefs, Pershing and Sims, down to the youngest lieutenant; and
their men were worthy of them—such men as hardly need to be commanded,
and go to their terrible adventure blithely and with the quick intelligence
of those who know just what it is they would accomplish. I am proud to be
the fellow-countryman of men of such stuff and valor. Those of us who stayed
at home did our duty; the war could not hive been won or the gallant men
who fought it given their opportunity to win it otherwise; but for many a
long day we shall think ourselves "accurs'd we were not there, and hold our
manhoods cheap while any speaks that fought "with these at St. Mihiel or
Thierry. The memory of those days of triumphant battle will go with these
fortunate men to their graves; and each will have his favorite memory. "Old
men forget; yet all shall be forgot, but he'll remember with advantages what
feats he did that day!" 
What we all thank God for with deepest gratitude is that our men went in
force into the line of battle just at the critical moment when the whole
fate of the world seemed to hang in the balance and threw their fresh strength
into the ranks of freedom in time to turn the whole tide and sweep of the
fateful struggle—turn it once for all, so that henceforth it was back,
back, back for their enemies, always back, never again forward! After that
it was only a scant four months before the commanders of the Central empires
knew themselves beaten.; and now their very empires are in liquidation! 
And throughout it all how fine the spirit of the nation was: what unity of
purpose, what untiring zeal! What elevation of purpose ran through all its
splendid display of strength, its untiring accomplishment. I have said that
those of us who stayed at home to do the work of organization and supply
will always wish that we had been with the men whom we sustained by our labor;
but we can never be ashamed. It has been an inspiring thing to be here in
the midst of fine men who had turned aside from every private interest of
their own and devoted the whole of their trained capacity to the tasks that
supplied the sinews of the whole great undertaking! The patriotism, the unselfishness,
the thoroughgoing devotion and distinguished capacity that marked their toilsome
labors, day after day, month after month, have made them fit mates and comrades
of the men in the trenches and on the sea. And not the men here in Washington
only. They have but directed the vast achievement. Throughout innumerable
factories, upon innumerable farms, in the depths of coal mines and iron mines
and copper mines, wherever the stuffs of industry were to be obtained and
prepared, in the shipyards, on the railways, at the docks, on the sea, in
every labor that 


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