Speech for the Soldiers of the Republic of the Philippines
Lead Image from Unsplash.
Soldiers of the Republic of the Philippines:
I have watched you pass by this grandstand in the measured cadence of veteran troops. I see you now in mass formations, which fills me with pride and exaltation, because this moment reminds me of the days when it was my greatest honor to serve our country alongside officers and men like you in the same uniform that you now wear. The uniform is still an emblem of the highest degree of honor, loyalty, and service to the country.
The splendid parade and review which I have just witnessed reminds me of a glorious Manila Bay. Four years ago today, the irresistible drive of the American Forces of Liberation under the personal command of General Douglas MacArthur, spearheaded by the famed First Cavalry Division, crashed through the Japanese defenses and entered Manila on February 3, 1945, symbolizing the end of Japanese tyranny in the Philippines. This is a great day for the Santo Tomas internees; a great day for the 19,000,000 people of the Philippines; and a glorious day for the First Cavalry Division in particular, and for all officers and men of the Sixth and the Eight Armies in general who participated in the final liberation of our country and made possible the realization of our fondest dream of a free and independent nation. With reverence and profound gratitude today, I salute General MacArthur and his liberation forces.
The life of a soldier is a sacred dedication to the service of his country. In times of peace, the soldier can hardly expect adequate security for his old age. In times of war, he faces only the certainty of death. It is a life, indeed, reserved only for true Filipinos who place the welfare of their country over and above all else, whose patriotism admits no compromises and whose loyalty knows no guile. The Armed Forces of the Philippines have no place for idlers, fence-sitters, or for those who seek nothing but material ease and comfort.
The military establishment is the insight of free nations. To enjoy the priceless boons of liberty and to secure it for themselves and for their descendants by force of arms, if necessary, is the privilege of free men and women. To be free and yet trust our freedom to the uncertain fortune of chance in the vein hope that other nations of unknown intention will not molest our state of disarmament is entirely contrary to our concept of a true and strong democracy. Since our ancestors risked their lives and fortunes for hundreds of years to give us freedom, we are morally incompetent if we don't take care of its safety now.
No nation can survive and uphold its authority, laws, and prestige among other nations without force behind it.
The Armed Forces are the living symbol of a country’s freedom and the desire of our people to maintain that freedom at any cost. Any individual who advocates the abolition of the armed forces betrays the primary mandate of the nation and dishonors the prime aspiration of our people. The more I think of it, the more it is moral disloyalty, if not downright treason.
The administration's pledge is to maintain the Armed Forces and to keep and train them to the highest level of combat efficiency possible. It is our commitment to equip them with the most modern weapons available within our means. This is, in a way, the nation's answer to those who want to mess with our internal affairs and put our security in the hands of potential attackers.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines belong to the people. It is encouraging to note that the country has shown a growing awareness of their welfare. The legislation of Congress seeking to remedy several conditions that tend to undermine the morale of the personnel of the Armed Forces is a positive indication that the nation is not unmindful of your sacrifices and true worth. It is safe to presume that a sympathetic Congress will continue to enact laws to further ameliorate the backward conditions of the armed forces.
It is not for me to recite here your epic deeds of service to the country, nor to praise your greatness. The silent white crosses of Capas, the unmarked graves throughout the country, and the unforgettable history of the resistance movement are greater tributes to your courage, deathless loyalty, and devotion to God and country. They are far more eloquent testaments to your greatness than any words I or any other mortal can utter.
By your deeds of incomparable daring and sacrifice, you established a tradition of valor, patriotism, and a code of honor that is the equal of any other code in the world. Such a tradition cannot be measured in terms of gold because it is, in itself, the very essence of liberty—the very soul of our country.
I deeply hope, therefore, that you will always remain true to the tradition that you stand ready at present to meet any challenge to the security of our Philippines and prove to the world that the Filipinos are worthy of their freedom and independence.