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ADDRESS AT THE DEDICATION OF THE RED
In the course of the following address, President Wilson said, in speaking of the war between the United States and the Imperial German Government: "We have gone in with no special grievance of our own."
This phrase did not stand alone, and the text of which it was a part clearly showed the President's thought to be that the war was commenced by Germany and that our liberty as well as the liberty of the world was at stake. It was only in this sense he meant it to be understood that we had no special grievance. As, however, the expression was seized upon as if it stood alone, the President wrote on May 22, 1917, and made public the following letter to Representative Heflin, who had addressed him on the subject:
"It is incomprehensible to me how any frank or honest person could doubt or question my position with regard to the war and its objects. I have again and again stated the very serious and long-continued wrongs which the Imperial German Government has perpetrated against the rights, the commerce, and the citizens of the United States. The list is long and overwhelming. No nation that respected itself or the rights of humanity could have borne those wrongs any longer.
"Our objects in going into the war have been stated with equal clearness. The whole of the conception, which I take to be the conception of our fellowcountrymen, with regard to the outcome of the war and the terms of its settlement I set forth with the utmost explicitness in an address to the Senate of the United States on the twenty-second of January last. Again, in my message to Congress on the second of April last those objects were stated in unmistakable terms. I can conceive no purpose in seeking to becloud this matter except the purpose of weakening the hands of the Government and making the part which the United States is to play in this great struggle for human liberty an inefficient and hesitating part. We have entered the war for our own reasons and with our own objects clearly stated, and shall forget neither the reasons nor the objects. There is no hate in our hearts for the German people, but there is a resolve which cannot be shaken even by misrepresentation to overcome the pretensions of the autocratic Government which acts upon purposes to which the German people have never consented."
MR. CHAIRMAN, MR. SECRETARY, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:
It gives me a very deep gratification as the titular head of the American Red Cross to accept in the name of that association this significant and beautiful gift,
the gift of the government and of private individuals who have conceived their duty in a noble spirit and upon a great scale. It seems to me that the architecture of the building to which the Secretary alluded suggests something very significant. There are few buildings in Washington more simple in their lines and in their ornamentation than the beautiful building we are dedicating this evening. It breathes a spirit of modesty and seems to adorn duty with its proper garment of duty. It is significant that it should be dedicated to women who served to alleviate suffering and comfort those who were in need during our Civil War, because their thoughtful, disinterested, self-sacrificing devotion is the spirit which should always illustrate the services of the Red Cross.
The Red Cross needs at this time more than ever it needed before the comprehending support of the American people and all the facilities which could be placed at its disposal to perform its duties adequately and efficiently.
I believe that the American people perhaps hardly yet realize the sacrifices and sufferings that are before them. We thought the scale of our Civil War was unprecedented, but in comparison with the struggle into which we have now entered the Civil War seems almost insignificant in its proportions and in its expenditure of treasure and of blood. And, therefore, it is a matter of the greatest importance that we should at the outset see to it that the American Red Cross is equipped and prepared for the things that lie before it.
It will be our instrument to do the works of allevi
ation and mercy which will attend this struggle. Of course, the scale upon which it shall act will be greater than the scale of any other duty that it has ever attempted to perform.
It is in recognition of that fact that the American Red Cross has just added to its organization a small body of men whom it has chosen to call its war council -not because they are to counsel war, but because they are to serve in this special war those purposes of counsel which have become so imperatively necessary.
Their first duty will be to raise a great fund out of which to draw the resources for the performance of their duty, and I do not believe that it will be necessary to appeal to the American people to respond to their call for funds, because the heart of this country is in this war, and if the heart of the country is in the war, its heart will express itself in the gifts that will be poured out for those humane purposes.
I say the heart of the country is in this war because it would not have gone into it if its heart had not been prepared for it. It would not have gone into it if it had not first believed that here was an opportunity to express the character of the United States.
We have gone in with no special grievance of our own, because we have always said that we were the friends and servants of mankind. We look for no profit. We look for no advantage. We will accept no advantage out of this war.
We go because we believe that the very principles upon which the American Republic was founded are now at stake and must be vindicated.