Speech on V-J Day (1945)
The day for which the people of the world have prayed is here at last. There is great thankfulness in our hearts. Peace has not come, however, as the result of the kind of power which we have known in the past, but as the result of a new discovery which as yet is not fully understood, nor even developed. There is a certain awe and fear coupled with our rejoicing today, because we know that there are new forces in the world, partly understood but not as yet completely developed and controlled. This new force is a tremendous challenge to the wisdom of men, and for that reason I know that most of us feel that it must be subject to their collective wisdom. Just as it was discovered by the pooling of knowledge from men of many races and religions, so it must be ruled in its development.
We should not think only of its destructive power for this new discovery may hold within it the germs of the greatest good that man has ever known. But that good can only be achieved through man’s wisdom in developing and controlling it.
Today we have a mixture of emotions, joy that our men are freed of constant danger, hope that those whom we love will soon be home among us, awe at what man’s intelligence can compass, and a realization that that intelligence uncontrolled by great spiritual forces, can be man’s destruction instead of his salvation.
For the happy wives and mothers of my own country and of the world, my heart rejoices today, but I can not forget that to many this moment only adds a poignancy to their grief. All women, wives and mothers, sisters or sweethearts, who have had men involved in this conflict, know what it is to live with fear as a constant companion. Some women will still have to help their men fight the aftermath of war in their own lives. Others have lost forever the men they hold dear. Many, many women, however, will be able to rejoice for themselves individually and for the others whose anxiety for their dear ones and whose separation from them will soon be over. Many of us are hoping that the very suffering which women of all nationalities have been through, will bring about a greater kinship among them than has ever existed before. The power of women for good should be intensified because they will surely determine to work together in order to insure that the forces of the world are used for constructive purposes. Women want to create a world atmosphere in which human beings may develop in peace and loving understanding. [script: Insert]
Our prayer today is one of gratitude, Oh, Lord, that peace has come to bless the earth, but above all we pray for wisdom and for the spirit of love in the hearts of men, for without that spirit, wisdom will avail us little.