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Speech delivered at
Unveiling of Pulaski Monument
Poughkeepsie, New York
September .8, 1940
Ve meet here to unveil a monument to the memory of General Pulaski
who fought and died for the freedom and the liberty of these United
Ve are commemorating today a young soldier who faced problems very
much like those we, ourselves, are now facing. Casimir Pulaski's brief
life was spent in fighting forces.of repression that in his day, as now
in ours, were threatening humanity. He was not a mere seeker of thrills
and excitement. He had ideals, convictions, sympathies, and it vas for
these he fought. He was a lover of freedom. He was a lover of the
human spirit. It was important in his eyes that men and women be able
to live their lives according to their own judgment and wishes, and not
in servile, unthinking obedience to the dictation of others. Brave,
eager, and generous, he was moved by the cause of human liberty. It was
the same cause then as now. It was the same cause in Europe as in
America, He fought for it in Europe, he fought for it in America, and
fighting for it here, he died. The cause and the country he fought for
still live, thanks to his, and his associates' vision and sacrifice. Ve
are theā€¢beneficiaries of his life's work. Ve are the beneficiaries of
his death. Ve are the inheritors of his principles.
He was young - he was active - he was alert - he was industrious
and he was able. He had indeed a splendid future ahead of him. All
this he sacrificed for this country.
He was of nobility. He had much of the earthly possessions to live
with and to live for. This, too, he gave up for this country.
He was a practical and an experienced military leader. He was instrumental in developing the first cavalry in this country. He fought
at Brandywine, Germantown, Trenton, and Princeton. He organised the
Pulaski Legion and fought in the defense of Charleston, South Carolina.
He was finally wounded in the Battle of Savannah in 1779 and died in
this country, on board ship. Vhen he died he was only 31 years of age.
Ve have been living through a period in which exploits such as
those of Pulaski and other young men who fought for their country in
past wars, seem strange and only half real. IT-ien peace prevails and
people are preoccupied wholly with their civil occupations, their personal ambitions, and their family interests, it is sometimes hard to
realise the spirit that again and again in the past has led young men to
offer themselves eagerly for the defense of their freedom and their
country's freedom. Moreover, when such a period of peace draws to a
close with the approach of danger, it is hard to make adjustment to the
strange necessities of sacrifice. Ve became so used to the daily routine of civil employment and to the comforts of life at home that any
other way of living is difficult to conceive. Ve hear of it and read of
it as if it were something belonging not to our world but to another.
But the thing that was at first remote becomes immediate. Gradually but
steadily the danger and the necessity come closer and closer. As they

approach, it becomes clearer day by day that we must accustom ourselves
to the obligations of a new order.
Isn't it true that today we .face sacrifice and self-discipline?
Isn't it true that we must discipline ourselves now, and isn't it true
that we must face reality - harsh reality - a n d discipline ourselves
rigidly now - now lest we .lose what General Pulaski and others courageously fought and died for - lose our freedom and our liberty, and what
is more, lest we be disciplined later by a iorce - not our own - by a
force not from within ourselves?
He frequently hear it said that the fervor which characterizes
military activity is merely hysterical. There is such a thing, of course,
as war hysteria, but we make a grave mistake if we fail to realize that
there is an enthusiasm involved in the defense of ideals that is quite
different from mere excitement and frenzy. In a free country they have
something to defend - seriously, deliberately, devotedly. The things we
have to defend are so familiar - are so much a matter of our daily life
and experience - that they are too often taken for granted. But at this
moment they cannot be taken for granted. We are involved in a conflict
between different conceptions of how life should be lived. There are
enemies to our way of life. They mock our democracy and our freedom and
would destroy them from the face of the earth.
Frankly, we face a test. History will record whether you and I were
able to face this test as did General Pulaski and meet the test as did
General Pulaski. To his memory monuments are being erected.
In every man's life there is sadness,
penings, that almost kill his spirit. The
is measured by his ability to overcome and
misfortunes that shatter his mind and tear
the victory of the individual.

brought on by untoward hapgreatness of each individual
to win, ana the greater the
apart his heart, the greater

The issue is a national one but also a personal one. We can face
it despondently, regretfully, and with heavy hearts, or we can face it
as Pulaski did in a spirit of venture and noble generosity. We can
think of it as a task for others or as a personal responsibility of our
own. There is no doubt in my mind which way we shall choose.
Is there any one who will say - now when over a century and a half
has past - that Pulaski chose wrong? Should he rather have sought safety,
compromise, and ease? Or does it seem to us that he did well and wisely
when he chose the hard and dangerous course, when he chose to strive and
dare, when he chose to throw the full weight of his strength against the
evils of force? The willingness to accept that challenge is one of the
greatest satisfactions the human heart can know. We too can share that
satisfaction. We are the beneficiaries of those who chose in the past to
build our heritage with their convictions and their sacrifices. And we
are the inheritors not only of the blessings they secured for us, but of
the obligation to defend the spirit of liberty and civilization as they
defended"it and to maintain with our strength, our property, and even our
lives the right to call ourselves free men - Americans'.
General Pulaski - truly, we honor ourselves by honoring youi