Vol. II No. 14
The Nature of a Free Man
We Americans weren’t the only backward citizens. The rest of the free peoples in the Western world were just as dull. They have paid a more terrible price. They lived higher on the slopes of the volcano; they were the first to perish under the rain of fire. But did we pay heed, we who lived only a little lower on those same slopes? We said, “It’s rather warm, isn’t it?” We said, ” The air seems a trifle dusty.” And we said, “It will surely blow over.” One by one, ten nations on the continent of Europe were killed. In Asia the Chinese were ravaged by the Japs. In the whole world there was only the British Empire between us and the barbarian. And still we told ourselves that we were safe, that we were at peace, that if we kept quiet nothing bad would happen. We were like grown-up children, playing at housekeeping, forgetting that we were middle-aged, that our parents had died years ago, and that if we were to have a house to keep we must earn it in a harsh world and hold it by our daily labor. The hardest task is to be free men. We were behaving as if it were the easiest task, as if freedom came to us by divine right. If England had fallen in 1940, America would not have been able to face the Axis alone. We were unprepared. Our conduct between the two wars was folly. We took freedom for granted. Herbert Agar is the author of this issue of ARMY TALKS.