Members of the Graduating Classes
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I feel it is a privilege to be with you in our graduation exercise. As you receive your certificates of graduation, which symbolize the completion of a course designed to make you better fitted to assume active roles in the vanguard of your country’s defense, I share your sense of oblivion in this hour of your well-deserved triumph, and I share your sense of destiny, earnestness of purpose, and devotion to duty. Viewed against a background of national mourning occasioned by the untimely death of our Commander-in-Chief, whose wise and aggressive leadership we have learned to follow; of strained international relations and growing distrust among the major powers of the world, your graduation today takes on an added meaning and significance very much unlike that of an ordinary graduation. As simple as the ceremony is, it is portentous and, in contrast, the responsibilities it entails are great.
Let us not fool ourselves. Our country, in her own humble way, along with her mighty allies, has helped win the war, but peace is far from gained. The mighty and evil forces once more stalk the world. Again, within our lifetime, the dark clouds of war hang dangerously low. And if and when this threat of war, which has now divided this world into two armed camps, breaks, it is foolish to believe that our country will escape its fury.
The refresher that you have just successfully hurdled is a salient feature of an overall plan initiated and put into effect to meet this eventual contingency. In its entirety, this course has been carefully studied and planned to include the study of all the most modern and battle-tested theories and all the tactics of total warfare. As you can see, the course is designed to provide each student with physical fitness and mental alertness, as well as to familiarize him with all of the most modern weapons of war, including their care, capabilities, and limitations, and to provide him with actual field experience. As much as possible and under stimulated battle conditions of command and staff functions and of all possible types of operations which, in all probability, he may be called upon to plan and execute. And to implement this course, we have provided a staff of battle-tested instructors whose records of service in peace and in war and whose standing in the military profession are the equal of any in the world and of a kind one can be proud of. I am proud indeed, gentlemen, to inform you that no effort has been spared to make your courses the best that can be devised within our means and with what is available. The reason is not difficult to find. We resolved that the sacrifice of Bataan, a symbol of unpreparedness and a gruesome reminder of hasty defensive measures, would never be repeated on the youth of our country. I can show true faith in the hallowed memory of our fallen comrades only by keeping fit and trained to defend our native land and avert the calamity of another armed conflict on our shores.
I feel it unnecessary to point out to you that in the noble profession of arms, there is no substitute for training. You must have appreciated this fully by now, after completing the courses you have just been put through. Allow this fundamental military principle to be deeply ingrained in your consciousness and remembered in every waking hour, because to ignore it even for a moment spells defeat. which is now your lot as part and parcel of our citizen armed forces upon which rests the preservation of our inviolable rights as a nation, always decides in favor of the trained. Untrained levies, no matter how numerous and patriotic, are but so much common-fodder in the face of trained armies. Training, therefore, cannot be overemphasized. Training our armed forces well, coupled with our native valor, and training them more fully still, supplemented with our innate patriotism and love of country, is the only citadel of defense of our freedom, the only deterrent which possible aggressors will respect and the only guarantee of the eternal preservation of our liberties and national integrity.
As Reserve Officers, it is not the fortune of many to have been accorded the opportunities of the intensive training that the selected group to which you belong just received. This should be a source of justifiable pride for you, and you should remember its significance at all times.
Your graduation is by no means the attainment of an end. It is the beginning of greater responsibilities and more difficult duties for you. Upon your strong shoulders now falls the honored task of keeping alive the martial traditions of our race. Already within this camp, the measured trends of many men and the preparations that signal the start of a vast and comprehensive military defense program for our country that will encompass the lives of thousands more of the land's youth for years to come can be heard. I refer to the program of ROTC and trainee instruction which will soon commence. In this undertaking of national magnitude, there is no doubt that you will be called upon to play a major role by virtue of this training, which now fully qualifies you for the task. I am confident that you will accomplish your duties thoroughly and well. Go forth from here, therefore, with a firm resolve to fulfill the high expectations and the hopes that go with you in the national effort to train our 20-year-old in the ways of modern war.
The eyes and hopes of the nation are upon you today. If you falter, with the lives of thousands of your countrymen and the freedom of your country at stake, if you falter, you cannot fail. May God bless you all and may the continued freedom of your beloved land be your own reward.