I am deeply honored that you have asked me to meet with you today on this occasion of such importance to your community, to your children, and to the future of all those who will live in Lincolnwood.
I congratulate you on this magnificent educational plant constructed with your own money on your own imitative because of your own personal belief in the importance of education. You did not wait for state aid or federal aid to education You dug down deep into your own pockets, and you have built here a unique and inspiring monument. You deserve the heartiest congratulations.
From these classrooms will be graduated, I most sincerely hope and pray, boys and girls possessed of a broad range of talents and interests, not mere technicians. In 20th Century America we do not need men like Lord John Russell, of whom Queen Victoria said, that he would be a better man if he knew a third subject but he was interested only in the Constitution of 1688 and himself. Instead we need men with the education of Thomas Jefferson, described by a contemporary, “as a gentleman of 32, who could calculate an eclipse, survey an estate, tie an artery, plan an edifice, try a cause, break a horse, dance a minuet, and play the violin.” That's the kind of man we need in 20th Century America. And may I add that the leadership of Van Allen Bradley and Marvin Garlich is well calculated to produce such men and women -- truly educated according to the high standards of Thomas Jefferson. Lincolnwood's schools and people are fortunate indeed to have such thoughtful and dedicated leaders and such a magnificent educational facility.
Today, however, we must look ahead. Despite the fact you have just completed this excellent school, that Russian moon is whirling overhead reminding us with its "beep, beep, beep" that all is not well with our country. The critical question posed to the U.S.A. by the existence of this Russian satellite is this: How shall we, as a people, respond to this challenge to our American way of life -- not to the ideal of the American way of life, but to the way, in fact, we have been living our life. Walter Lippmann says: "One response to the Russian satellite could be to think of it all in terms of propaganda, and to look around for some device for doing something spectacular to out-match what the Russians have done. The other response would be to look inward upon ourselves and to concern ourselves primarily with our own failings, and to be determined not so much to beat the Russians as to cure ourselves....
Cure ourselves of what? Cure ourselves, according to Lippmann, of the enormous fallacy that the highest purpose of American society is to multiply the enpoyment of consumer goods..."
This thought of Lippmann's led me to recall that our Chicagoland area is known all over the world as a transportation center, stockyards center, merchandising and steel production headquarters. But why is it that relatively few people outside Chicago speak of our city as a wonderful place to live, or thanks us for our contributions to the ideals, hopes, dreams of mankind? (Daley's efforts so good)
Even today in/ 20th Century, the ancient Romans are still well known for their law, their military organization, their good roads and orderly government.
The Ancient Greeks are famous for their philosophers like Aristotle and Plato; their teachers like Socrates; their poets and playwrights like Homer and Euripides.
But what are we in Chicago famous for? What do we export to the world? What have we given? What do we give today?
You might justifiably remonstrate that Illinois, if not Chicago, gave Lincoln to the world, and you would be right -- except that Lincoln was born in Kentucky. But, granting Lincoln, what are we giving today?
I suggest we are giving almost only material things: - Steel, automobiles, TV and radio, candy, meat, refrigerators, farm machinery. These products of our factories are vital to our national power, it is true, and our power is crucial in a world which seems to live in fear: Fear of atomic war, fear of economic defeat, fear of socialism and communism. But fear alone is a poor substitute for the higher virtues.
The Western World cannot combat Communism on such a basis. A people guided by fear leaves all the initiative and all the advantage to the other side. Throughout history, the men with the positive goals have won their way. Ideals like "The Chosen People" of ancient Jewry, the unity of Christianity in the middle ages, our own American republic, -- these ideals have proved most effective ways to harness the human forces of hunger and power and greed and fear into producing a better life for mankind.
Racially, the United States is a melting pot of every nation under the sun. Geographically we reached our present borders within the last 100 years. But, by force of an idea -- the proposition that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, the United States has risen to be the most powerful community in recorded history.
We have been made and sustained by faith in man -- faith in his freedom, his responsibility, his dignity as a creature of God, endowed with rights and responsible in duties.
Man is not master of the universe because he can split the atom. He has split the atom because he first believed in his own mastery.
Faith led to material achievement, not the achievement to faith.
So, I repeat, we are not giving enough or perhaps it would be more accurate to say we are not giving enough of the right things -- when we export primarily steel, farm machinery, food products, radio and TV to the world.
True, the world needs these things. But it needs much more the faith and the idealism which made America unique in the world.
The second half of the 20th Century can be America's century,-- the century of America's greatest success. But it won't happen by accident. It will require work and personal sacrifice.
Today Soviet Russia, we are told, is spending 10% of its national income on education; Great Britain 8%; the U.S.A. only 3%. Even in the depression ridden 1930's we spent 4%.
Today in Soviet Russia, we are told, 50% of all University graduates enter the teaching profession. In the U.S.A. 1/3 of the top 20% of all our high school seniors fail to graduate from college. Another 200,000 promising youngsters do not even "make the jump from high school to college."
We cannot continue to waste youth -- our most precious national and natural resource -- in this way. Recently I expressed the problem in these words:- ..."In the military they call it firepower--when they talk of machine guns vs rifles. Intellectually we must have the same ratio! The Russians have millions more people than we do. The Red Chinese have 600,000,000. We've got to be--everyone of us--as smart as ten communists..."
Despite these facts about education and the other facts I have mentioned, many of us in the United States still concern ourselves with "business-as-usual." We urge our youngsters to go to college. Why? Because they will get a better job, improve their social position, gain entrance to better clubs, meet people higher on the social scale, make more money.
These reasons are typical of our American attachment to material goods and our desire, each of us, to make a personal fortune. But in any society, as Plato wrote in "The Republic", "What is honored is cultivated and that which has no honor is neglected."
We have honored businessmen, lawyers, doctors, bankers and management experts. We have a Hall of Fame for baseball players, doctors, merchants. But America needs sages, saints, scholars and statesmen -- master-minds and master-spirits. We shall never get an adequate supply of them, however, until superhighways and supermarkets take second place to super-schools and super-churches.
We have neglected to emphasize to our youngsters that the five most important functions in American life are represented by the church, home, school, work, and"civic-political" service. We haven't urged them sufficiently to prepare themselves for leadership in these fields and to refuse to be contented with mediocrity in them. Nor has the older generation accepted its share of the financial burden. The older generation must help. By redirecting money and energies into the five, all-important areas of life where the major effort of our children must be spent.
This brings me to my second point: What each of us must do to meet the challenges of this revolutionary world.
Point #1: We need to spend more money on our universities and schools. Money will not cure all our academic problems to be sure: But without it we can kiss goodbye any hopes we may entertain for leadership in tomorrow's world. Without original creative thinkers, we shall never produce the new ideas needed in an atomic, space-ship, intercultural world of growing populations and many races. Education is essential to survival in the next fifty years.
Point #2: We need to tell our young people there is no substitute for hard work. Vice President Mixon's idea for a 4-day week may be feasible in mass production industries. But automation and electronic calculators will never replace the need for rigorous mental discipline or the individual effort needed to produce a first-class thinker. Even today in this era of the five-day-week, no important, influential, or powerful man or woman in Americanlife works less than six days a week. No such person ever has or ever will. Ask Walter. Reuther, Chief of the U.A.W., when he last worked 4 days a week. The answer will be "never."
Point #3: We need to tell our boys and girls that excellence takes time to achieve. A master mind, master spirit, master craftsman is the worm of years, not days.
Point #4: We need to tell them to avoid the idea of "get rich quick," get results quick, "Make a fast buck."
Point #5: We need to advise our young people to give maximum time to the liberal arts, the "arts of free men," those studies which help to liberate man from the restrictions of ignorance and superstitution, and lift the burdens of vice and corruption.
Does all this sound difficult to accomplish? Does it sound costly? If so, take heart. Remember those facts:-
We are all American citizens, members of the most powerful and wealthiest nation on earth. 95% of all living human beings are less fortunate than we for this one reason alone.
We are living in 1957, a year recently described by our Secretary of Commerce in Washington as one of the best years in the history of American business. Job opportunities are greater than ever. Salaries are higher than ever. Even for those who must serve in military forces, there is less chance of being shot at today than at any time since 1952.
Add these factors together, and we can surely agree that of all living human beings, Americans are luckier than 99%. We are the 1% who must lead, inspire, and save the world, for the world is either lost or saved in every generation.
The expression "to make a break-through" has become a popular way to describe a great advance in human thought, experience, or knowledge. Today we need a new break-through, a new vision, to create unity among men. Only through education and the rigors of true religion, only through hard work and fervent prayer, through humility and detachment from our own values, even the cultural or national ones, can we hope to attain such a unity.
Paris is famous for its university, for Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur, and for the Louvre; London is famous for St.Paul i s, the British Museum and Parliament; Athens for the Parthenon and for its philosophers and teachers of ancient days.
In the future, will Chicago and Illinois be famous still, and only, as "hog butcher to the world, the city of the broad shoulders?" I hope not. Great and good as our former achievements have been, let us dedicate ourselves to future accomplishments based on the mind and soul of man, not his stomach or back.
In his book "One Man's America," Alistair Cooke tells the story which illustrates my point. On the 19th of May, 1780, as he describes it, in Hartford, Connecticut, the skies at noon turned from blue to gray and by midafternoon had blackened over so densely that, in that religious age, men fell on their knees and begged a final blessing before the end came. The Connecticut House of Representatives was in session. And as some men fell down in the darkened chamber and others clamored for an immediate adjournment, the Speaker of the House, one Colonel Davenport, came to his feet. And he silenced the din with these words: "The Day of Judgment is either approaching or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for adjournment. If it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. I wish, therefore, that candles may be brought."
People of Lincolnwood, and of Illinois - the land of Lincoln - let we who hope for the future peace and security of our nation, and for wisdom and courage in our leaders, join with Colonel Davenport in saying that if the Day of Judgment is at hand, if that Russian Moon really portends, we choose to be found doing our duty - building schools like this one which may stand forever as witness of our desire to light the candles cf knowledge to illuminate the way into a better and happier future for our children.