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Address at
Polish Day Celebration
Court of Peace, New York World's Fair
New York, New York.
October K , 1939
Let me quote from the radio address delivered by the Polish Ambassador to the United States - Count Potocki:
"I also want to say a few words to American citizens of Polish
origin. We wish you to remember that your first loyalty is to the country which has given you a new home and we trust that you shall faithfully fulfill your duties and obligations to the United States."
His advice is sound.
This is a time for you and me to remain cool and dispassionate.
I know it is so easy to be moved and so difficult to remain collected, and yet only by means of cool judgment con we meet our responsibilities as American citizens of Polish descent.
As citizens of this country we have assumed definite obligations
and it is our duty to bear these in mind when touched by the suffering
of the country recreated 20 some years ago whose representative sits on
this rostrum.
Often before have we expressed to him our sincere congratulations.
Often before have we expressed to him our pleasure with Poland's progress
for the good of her people. Today we have a different message - we express to him our sympathies - express to him our sorrow at what has happened in his country in recent weeks. Guided, nowever, by his own advice "that our first loyalty is to the United States" we realize fully^
that our country is representative of the ideas of many peoples of various ancestry living together in peace and harmony for ohe development of
their minds and their hearts - and so for the good of society at large.
The tragedies of recent weeks have risen to a great extent from the
theory that different peoples can not live together within the same
political boundaries. Application of this theory and practice means the
forcible removal of people from their homes and acceptance of the idea
that persons of different speech and different backgrounds must be more
or less hostile to one another.
The United States exemplifies the antithesis of this theory. From
the very beginning, a century and a half ago, the American tradition has
been that our country could absorb different nationalities, different
cultures, and weld them into one. We believe that the soundness of this
principle has been continuously demonstrated. We believe that this country is great, not in spite of the fact that its population is derived
from all parts of the world, but largely because of that fact. We realize that the process is not complete. We realize that much more can be
done than has so far been done in the process of amalgamation, but we
have no reason to believe that the principle will not work.
At the same time we have abundant reason to believe that the

opposite principle will not work. For once you start working on a principle of intolerance there is no limit to the extent you can go in discovering differences that may be magnified into reasons for mutual distrust and
hatred. Behold, the war!
It is therefore logical for us to conclude that the most directly
helpful thing we can do, it seems to me, is to strengthen our own country.
The more stability and essential unity the United States can display, the
greater is the hope for a better future for the world at large.
By this means we establish ourselves in our relation to the whole
American Nation as an essential part thereof, and by this means we help
preserve the American institutions - wholesome institutions - wholesome to
world freedom and peace.
These make the American nation a great nation.
Vihat makes a nation great?
It is not feats of arms, nor large governmental organizations, nor
domination of others. It is rather the accomplishments and state of mind
of its population.
In the past few weeks the incredible has happened.
There are two things we
juncture. The first is that
confine itself to the events
than the fate of one country
one as yet determined.

can turn our thoughts to in this unhappy
history will not stop with the present nor
we now are witnessing. Issues far greater
are at stake, nor is the final fate of any

This is not to say that I think we can look forward to a complete undoing of what has been accomplished. Lives can not be restored, the bitter
ness of suffering and deprivation can not be sweetened, and memories of hor
ror can not be wiped out. !>Jhatever restoration there may be for Poland,
the future can not dissolve tragedies that have been visited upon her and
the Polish people.
The second thing to which we can turn our thoughts is that, much as
we are moved by what has happened to Poland, we nevertheless are Americans.
Ue have many friendships, many memories, but only one paramount and permanent loyalty, and that we owe to America.
This loyalty to our country is not a merely selfish excuse to indulge
in the comfort of forgetfulness. It is not an excuse for doing nothing.
It is not a matter of thanking God that we have escaped and are safely remote from trouble. It is not a matter of passing by on the other side.
On the contrary, our loyalty to America is one that entails it3 own sacrifices and devotions, its own requirements of intelligent citizenship. It
is something we or our forefathers chose freely - knowingly and willingly.
The present position of the United States is one of grave difficulty.
We must protect our institutions. That is our first duty.

I should like to use this opportunity to consider what these institutions are. VJe speak often in general terras of how much they wean to
us and how much we cherish them. But what are they? Does America stand
in our minds for vague and uncertain benefits or for benefits that are
concrete and substantial?
I shall pass briefly over the economic advantages of America, because it is not enough that the soil of a countiy be fertile, that its
natural resources be abundant, that its products be varied, that its
suitability for human habitation be unusual. That can be true of i.:any
lands and yet all such potential benefits may be offset by political
tyranny that puts them in the control of the few and denies them to the
many. It is the distinction of America that from the outset her institutions wore devoted to the promotion of general well-being and the curbing of privilege. Our history is a history of the struggle to maintain
that principle and we dread war because we realize that our constitutional rights are never in graver danger of impairment than in time of
war, when the necessity of defending the national existence becomes an
excuse far destroying the very things for which the nation has its existence.
During the past few weeks we had occasion to celebrate the 150th
anniversary of our Bill of Rights - that portion of our Constitution
which arose directly from popular demand and is comprised in the first
ten amendments. I ask you bo join me in recalling certain of these provisions that are today most precious to us - to join me in reflecting
upon their significance to us.
Article I.
Congress shall make no law respecting an
establishment of religion, or prohibiting
the free exercise thereof; or abridging
the freedom of speech, or of the press;
or the right of the people peaceable bo
assemble, and to petition the Government
for a redress of grievances.
Article IV.
The right of the people to be secure in their
persons, houses, papers, and effects,
against unreasonable searches and seizures,
shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall
issue, but upon probable cause, supported
by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the
persons or things to be seized.
Article V.
No persons shall be held to answer for a capital,
or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except

in cases arising in the land or naval
forces, or in the Militia, when in actual
service in time of War or public danger;
nor shall any person be subject for the
same offense to be twice put in jeopardy
of life or limb; nor shall be compelled
in any criminal case to be a witness
against himself, nor be deprived of life,
liberty, or property, without due process
of law; nor shall private property be taken
for public use, without just compensation.
Article VI.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused
shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public
trial, by an impartial jury of the State and
district wherein the crime shall have been
committed, which district shall have been
previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses
against him; to have compulsory process for
obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to
have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
Article VIII.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor
excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Contrast this, if you will, with conditions elsewhere, and realize
more fully the real meaning of these provisions of our Bill of Rights an American institution.
These articles of our Bill of Rights have protected American citizens for 150 years. They are bulwarks of our freedom and well-being.
They are safeguards that go along with our power to choose our legislators and our executives. They are safeguards that protect us from
abuses by those whom we choose to make our laws and administer them.
They are rights for which humanity has struggled successfully in this
country and unsuccessfully in other parts of the world. They are rights
for which we still must struggle to maintain, for they can be lost as
millions of our fellow creatures have lost them. They can be violated;
they can be destroyed. We can not afford to take them for granted, as
natural rights possessed by all men. "Eternal vigilance is the price
of liberty". It is for this reason that our country is remaining neutral
and will try by every mecns to maintain its neutrality.
We have other tasks besides that of maintaing neutrality. We have
immediate and pressing domestic problems, and preoccupation with the
fate of other nations should net divert our attention from these problems.

I do not urge all this upon you in a spirit of selfishness, nor to
make you forget what I know you can not forget. How close our American
loyalties are to the cause of Poland is illustrated in these recent
words of our Secretary of State.
"Poland is now the victim of force used as
an instrument of national policy. Its
territory has been taken over and its
government has had to seek refuge abroad.
Mere seizure of territory, however, does
not extinguish the legal existence of a
These words mean to me that America is still what she always has
been - the hope of the world.
We know well with what longing and aspiration America has been
looked to in the past, and we who gather here today are living testimony
to the fact that America did not disappoint those longings and aspirations. What she has been in the past, she must be even more in the future. For the world's sake as much as for her own she must remain sane,
wholesome and united, so as to be ready and able to lead in some happier
day, to the reestablishment of peace, order and justice. Here is our
task. Against that time when wrongs may be more effectively righted
than now, we are called upon to strengthen our country with our most
devoted thought and loyalty - we are called upon to understand and defend her institutions and to perfect their oneness with the interests of
civilization and humanity.