Saturday, May 31, 2014

One World by; Wendell Willkie

This book was written in 1943. For the most part it chronicles his around the world airplane visit to many allied nations in 1942. After losing the election for president to F.D.R. in 1940, he allied himself to the president and provided valuable assistance anyway he could. This goodwill tour and inspection was part of that endeavor. The most important issues he discovered were; the good will people of every nation had toward America and their collective hope for their own destiny as free nations after the conclusion of the war. Many, at the time were still part of the colonial system of England, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium and Germany. In Egypt he landed in Cairo and visited the battlefield of El Alamein with General Montgomery just after his victory over General Rommel. Then on to Iraq, Iran, Russia, Siberia, and China where he met with leaders; Stalin, Chiang Kai-shek, General Chennault and other prominent leaders but he also met, whenever possible with soldiers, workers, farmers and other common people so he could better understand the totality of support. When he returned he felt compelled to publish this book to alert Americans. He was concerned that after our victory, which he had no doubt would occur, that America doesn’t then lose the peace as we did after WWI. He details the mistakes made by President Wilson and the Congress, which resulted in the failure of “The League of Nations”. I want to confine my comments to the aspirations he expressed in the final chapters. He was concerned that countries like England would reclaim their former colonies and rule as they had before. After the signing of the Atlantic Charter, Churchill said, “… the authors had in mind primarily the restoration of the sovereignty, self-government and the national life of the states and nations of Europe now under the Nazi yoke; and that the provisions of the Charter did not qualify in any way the various statements of policy which have been made from time to time about the development of constitutional government in India, Burma, or other parts of the British Empire.” At a later time Churchill stated “We mean to hold our own. I did not become His Majesty’s first minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire.” This was not the position of President Roosevelt. As the war continued more people including the British realized that colonies would not continue and that steps would need to be taken to prepare these countries to be able to govern themselves. Sadly to say even in 1942 France was assured that they would continue to govern Indi-China. We all know how that turned out ending with America at war in Vietnam. He was a strong advocate that an organization of United Nations be established so peoples all over the world could have a forum to resolve issues between nations. He hoped that the small European countries could be re-created as political entities but not militarily nor economic. He foresaw something like the European Union as it exists today. As an aside, the union is at a critical stage today and may fall apart if dramatic action is not taken to maintain. Willkie was honest and brave enough to point out that in America black people were not receiving equal status and that we must resolve this issue. The people of the world are of many colors and race. They will not accept second hand status. He insisted that the success of the American experiment was due to the blending of races, colors and religions and melding them together. The last hurdle would be the total inclusion of the black Americans. His final paragraph says it all, “Our allies in the East know that we intend to pour out our resources in this war. But they expect us now-not after the war- to use the enormous power of our giving to promote liberty and justice. Other peoples, not yet fighting, are waiting no less eagerly for us to accept the most challenging opportunity of all history- the chance to help create a new society in which men and women the world around can live and grow invigorated by independence and freedom.” I want to conclude with the following comments. Willkie ran again in 1944 for President but lost out to Thomas Dewey. He never would have lived until Election Day. He died of a sudden heart attack on October 8, 1944. Eleanor Roosevelt wrote a weekly column in those days called “My Day”. Her column printed October 12, 1944 was a tribute to Willkie. OCTOBER 12, 1944 WASHINGTON, Wednesday—Yesterday afternoon I represented my husband at Wendell Willkie's funeral. Only twice did I ever have the opportunity of meeting Mr. Willkie personally, and I never had an opportunity to talk with him. Yet no one who has watched his political career during the past few years could have failed to recognize the growth of the man and his great leadership qualities. The loss of a man of courage is deeply felt at all times by any American citizen as a loss to the country, but especially at the present time it affects each one of us to know that such potentialities for good leadership have been removed from this troubled world. It leaves us all poorer; for men of honest convictions, though they may differ, are bound to make a contribution to the thinking of the world. I never saw a church with so many flowers, which spoke of the love that people felt for this man. I know that among the friends who knew him well there was the deepest sense of personal loss, as well as of public loss. Mr. Willkie's son, who is on the high seas and will never see his father again, has nevertheless something bequeathed to him which will be very precious as the years go on. The gift of making friends, and of binding his followers close, is a thing one's children are always grateful for, for it means much to them throughout their lives. To Mrs. Willkie and all the family, the heart of this whole nation goes out in sympathy. Mr. Willkie placed great emphasis on the need we have in this country to be just to all of our citizens, because without equality there can be no democracy. His outspoken opinions on race relations were among his great contributions to the thinking of the world. I thought of that last night when I attended a "register and vote" rally in Harlem. In that great crowd of people, when his name was mentioned, it was quite evident that he was held in great respect and affection. I came down on the night train, and this morning had a very large gathering at my press conference, which I think was largely because it happened to be on my birthday. Everyone wanted to see if, having lived 60 years, a very sudden change had taken place overnight in my appearance! Jack B. Walters May 31, 2014

No comments: