Was the Forbidden Fruit an Apple?


Over at NPR, Nina Martyris explains how the forbidden fruit of Genesis 3 came to be an apple.

Short version: a Latin pun by St. Jerome and an epic poem by John Milton.

Long version:

In order to explain, we have to go all the way back to the fourth century A.D., when Pope Damasus ordered his leading scholar of scripture, Jerome, to translate the Hebrew Bible into Latin. Jerome’s path-breaking, 15-year project, which resulted in the canonical Vulgate, used the Latin spoken by the common man. As it turned out, the Latin words for evil and apple are the same: malus.

In the Hebrew Bible, a generic term, peri, is used for the fruit hanging from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, explains Robert Appelbaum, who discusses the biblical provenance of the apple in his book Aguecheek’s Beef, Belch’s Hiccup, and Other Gastronomic Interjections.

“Peri could be absolutely any fruit,” he says. “Rabbinic commentators variously characterized it as a fig, a pomegranate, a grape, an apricot, a citron, or even wheat. Some commentators even thought of the forbidden fruit as a kind of wine, intoxicating to drink.”

When Jerome was translating the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil,” the word malus snaked in. A brilliant but controversial theologian, Jerome was known for his hot temper, but he obviously also had a rather cool sense of humor.

“Jerome had several options,” says Appelbaum, a professor of English literature at Sweden’s Uppsala University. “But he hit upon the idea of translating peri as malus, which in Latin has two very different meanings. As an adjective, malus means bad or evil. As a noun it seems to means an apple, in our own sense of the word, coming from the very common tree now known officially as the Malus pumila. So Jerome came up with a very good pun.”

The story doesn’t end there. “To complicate things even more,” says Appelbaum, “the word malus in Jerome’s time, and for a long time after, could refer to any fleshy seed-bearing fruit. A pear was a kind of malus. So was the fig, the peach, and so forth.”

Which explains why Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel fresco features a serpent coiled around a fig tree. But the apple began to dominate Fall artworks in Europe after the German artist Albrecht Dürer’s famous 1504 engraving depicted the First Couple counterpoised beside an apple tree. It became a template for future artists such as Lucas Cranach the Elder, whose luminous Adam and Eve painting is hung with apples that glow like rubies.

Milton, then, was only following cultural tradition. But he was a renowned Cambridge intellectual fluent in Latin, Greek and Hebrew, who served as secretary for foreign tongues to Oliver Cromwell during the Commonwealth. If anyone was aware of the malus pun, it would be him. And yet he chose to run it with it. Why?

Appelbaum says that Milton’s use of the term “apple” was ambiguous. “Even in Milton’s time the word had two meanings: either what was our common apple, or, again, any fleshy seed-bearing fruit. Milton probably had in mind an ambiguously named object with a variety of connotations as well as denotations, most but not all of them associating the idea of the apple with a kind of innocence, though also with a kind of intoxication, since hard apple cider was a common English drink.”

It was only later readers of Milton, says Appelbaum, who thought of “apple” as “apple” and not any seed-bearing fruit. For them, the forbidden fruit became synonymous with the malus pumila. As a widely read canonical work, Paradise Lost was influential in cementing the role of apple in the Fall story.

Read the whole thing!

Advertisements

The Blogosphere and the Problem of Authority


My wife Tiffany drew my attention to this article over at ChristianityToday.com. Tish Harrison Warren argues that the blogosphere has created a crisis of authority for Christians, especially for Christian women. Here’s her conclusion:

In his essay Sinsick, Stanley Hauerwas famously explores the notion of authority using a medical analogy. If a medical student told his advisor, “I’m not into anatomy this year, I’m into relating” and asked to skip anatomy class to focus on people, the medical school would reply, “Who in the hell do you think you are, kid? … You’re going to take anatomy. If you don’t like it, that’s tough.” Hauerwas delivers his crucial point by saying: “Now what that shows is that people believe incompetent physicians can hurt them. Therefore people expect medical schools to hold their students responsible for the kind of training that is necessary to be competent physicians. On the other hand, few people believe an incompetent minister can damage their salvation.”

The church has said for millennia that bad teaching is more deadly than bad surgery. Now we have an influx of teachers who become so by the stroke of a key. The need for formal structures of training, hierarchy, and accountability in medical schools and medical boards is obvious because we don’t want our doctors to simply be popular or relatable; we want them to practice medicine correctly and truthfully, participate in a medical tradition broader than themselves, and serve under the authority and oversight of others. We need to be as discerning in whom we trust with care of souls as we are with care of our bodies.

Christian writing and teaching is not minor surgery; it is heart surgery. In this new Internet age, we as a church have to recover the idea that, like doctors, Christian writers, teachers, and leaders can help cure or help kill. And therefore, like doctors, we have to ensure that all Christian leaders—male and female alike—have oversight and accountability that matches the weight of their authority and influence.

Read the whole thing.

Restoring Color to the Arch of Titus


Erected in A.D. 81, the Arch of Titus commemorates Titus’ victory in the Jewish Revolt. The “spoils panel” depicts the treasures from the Temple in Jerusalem that Titus brought to Rome, including the Menorah. Although the arch is now white, due to nearly 2,000 years of weathering, in its day, it was painted in vivid color. Recently, scholars tried to reconstruct what the arch looked like. Watch this video to see the fruit of their labors:

H/T: Biblical Archaeology Society.

Lincoln’s Creed


20130527-075212.jpgIn 1920, William E. Barton published The Soul of Abraham Lincoln, a now classic study of the development of Lincoln’s faith. “Lincoln’s religious was an evolution,” Barton wrote, “both in its intellectual and spiritual qualities.”

Lincoln’s religious identity seems to have moved through three stages: (1) a Calvinist Baptist in childhood; (2) a skeptical, freethinker in young adulthood; and (3) and a not-altogether-orthodox Christian in mature adulthood.

“Too much of the effort to prove that Abraham Lincoln was a Christian,” Barton wrote, “has begun and ended in the effort to show that on certain theological opinions he cherished correct opinions.” Lincoln didn’t. For example, he evidently believe in evolution and universal salvation, and he had doubts about Christ’s virgin birth.

“Abraham Lincoln was not a theologian,” Barton went on to say, “and several of his theological opinions may have been incorrect; but there is good reason to believe that he was a true Christian.” By this, Barton meant that Lincoln had “a right attitude toward spiritual realities and practical duties.” (In my opinion, Lincoln was neither an infidel nor an orthodox Christian, but something in between.)

Barton concluded his study with “a series of short quotations [of Lincoln’s] from documents, letters, and addresses, certified authentic and touching directly upon points of Christian doctrine.” He organized these quotations into what he called “The Creed of Abraham Lincoln in His Own Words.”

In honor of Lincoln’s birthday—he was born on February 12, 1809—I’ve posted that creed below, adding footnotes that link individual phrases to their sources in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. This is the online version of Roy P. Bassler’s authoritative series of the same name.

 

The Creed of Abraham Lincoln in His Own Words[1]

I believe in God, the Almighty Ruler of Nations,[2] our great and good and merciful Maker,[3] our Father in Heaven, who notes the fall of a sparrow, and numbers the hairs of our heads.[4]

I believe in His eternal truth and justice.[5]

I recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history that those nations only are blest whose God is the Lord.[6]

I believe that it is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, and to invoke the influence of His Holy Spirit; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon.[7]

I believe that it is meet and right to recognize and confess the presence of the Almighty Father equally in our triumphs and in those sorrows[8] which we may justly fear are a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins to the needful end of our reformation.[9]

I believe that the Bible is the best gift which God has ever given to men. All the good from the Saviour of the world is communicated to us through this book.[10]

I believe the will of God prevails.[11] Without Him all human reliance is vain.[12] Without the assistance of that Divine Being, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail.[13]

Being a humble instrument in the hands of our Heavenly Father, I desire that all my works and acts may be according to His will; and that it may be so, I give thanks to the Almighty, and seek His aid.[14]

I have a solemn oath registered in heaven[15] to finish the work I am in,[16] in full view of my responsibility to my God,[17] with malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right as God gives me to see the right.[18] Commending those who love me to His care, as I hope in their prayers they will commend me,[19] I look through the help of God to a joyous meeting with many loved ones gone before.[20]

 

Notes

[1] William E. Barton, The Soul of Abraham Lincoln (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2005), 300. This book is a reprint of the 1920 first edition published by George H. Doran Co. Chapter XXIII is titled, “The Creed of Abraham Lincoln.”

[2] “First Inaugural Address—Final Text,” March 4, 1861.

[3] “To John D. Johnston,” January 12, 1851.

[4] Ibid.

[5] “First Inaugural Address.”

[6] “Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day,” March 30, 1863.

[7] Ibid.

[8] “Proclamation of Thanksgiving,” July 15, 1863.

[9] “Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day.”

[10] “Reply to Loyal Colored People of Baltimore upon Presentation of a Bible,” September 7, 1864.

[11] “Meditation on the Divine Will,” [September 2, 1862?].

[12] “To the Friends of Union and Liberty,” May 9, 1864.

[13] “Farewell Address at Springfield, Illinois,” February 11, 1861.

[14] “Reply to Eliza P. Gurney,” October 26, 1862.

[15] “First Inaugural Address.”

[16] “Second Inaugural Address,” March 4, 1865.

[17] “Message to Congress,” March 6, 1862.

[18] “Second Inaugural Address.”

[19] “Farewell Address at Springfield, Illinois.”

[20] “To John D. Johnston.”

4 Kinds of Fundamentalists


There are four kinds of Fundamentalists:

  1. Those who put the “fun” in “fundamentalist,”
  2. those who put the “duh” in it,
  3. those who put the “mental” in it, and
  4. those who put the “lists” in it.

I’ll let you decide what Fundamentalists fit into which category.

(For my fellow eggheads, here’s a nice overview of what the term Fundamentalist does and does not mean.)

George F. Will Offers a “Nones” Perspective on “Religion and the American Republic”


George F. Will pens a typically insightful essay in the most recent issue of National Affairs: “Religion and the American Republic.” The unique “angle” on this essay is Will’s identification with the 20 percent of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated, i.e., the “nones.” From his conclusion:

Alexis de Tocqueville wrote Democracy in America just two generations after the American founding — two generations after Madison identified tyranny of the majority as the distinctively worst political outcome that democracy could produce. Tocqueville had a different answer to the question of what kind of despotism democratic nations should fear most.

His warning is justly famous and more pertinent now than ever. This despotism, he said, would be “milder” than traditional despotisms, but

it would degrade men without tormenting them….It is absolute, detailed, regular, far-seeing, and mild. It would resemble paternal power if, like that, it had for its object to prepare men for manhood; but on the contrary, it seeks only to keep them fixed irrevocably in childhood….It willingly works for their happiness; but it wants to be the unique agent and sole arbiter of that; it provides for their security, foresees and secures their needs, facilitates their pleasures, conducts their principal affairs, directs their industry, regulates their estates, divides their inheritances; can it not take away from them entirely the trouble of thinking and the pain of living?

So it is that every day it renders the employment of free will less useful and more rare; it confines the action of the will in a smaller space and little by little steals the very use of free will from each citizen….[It] reduces each nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd.

Each of us must decide to what extent Tocqueville’s foreboding has been fulfilled. People of faith might well ask this: Does the tendency of modern politics to take on more and more tasks in order to ameliorate the human condition tend to mute religion’s message about reconciling us to that condition? And people of faith might well worry whether religious institutions can flourish in the dark shade beneath a government that presumes to supply every human need and satisfy every appetite.

And those of us in the “none” camp must confront the other side of the same question: Can our limited government and free society long endure if the work of our civil society, which so often is the work of our religious institutions, is taken up instead by the government? To the extent that the politics of modernity attenuates the role of religion in society, it threatens society’s vitality, prosperity, and happiness. The late Irving Kristol understood this. Although not an observant Jew, he described himself as “theotropic,” by which he meant oriented to the divine. He explained why in these words:

[A] society needs more than sensible men and women if it is to prosper: It needs the energies of the creative imagination as expressed in religion and the arts. It is crucial to the lives of all of our citizens, as it is to all human beings at all times, that they encounter a world that possesses a transcendent meaning, a world in which the human experience makes sense. Nothing is more dehumanizing, more certain to generate a crisis, than to experience one’s life as a meaningless event in a meaningless world.

We may be approaching what is, for our nation, unexplored and perilous social territory. Europe is now experiencing a widespread waning of the religious impulse, and the results are not attractive. It seems that when a majority of people internalize the big-bang theory and ask, with Peggy Lee, “Is that all there is?”; when many people decide that the universe is merely the result of a cosmic sneeze with no transcendent meaning; when they conclude that therefore life should be filled to overflowing with distractions, with comforts and entertainments, to assuage the boredom — then they may become susceptible to the excitements of a politics promising ersatz meaning and spurious salvations from a human condition bereft of transcendence.

We know from the bitter experience of the blood-soaked 20th century the political consequences of this felt meaninglessness. Our political nature abhors a vacuum, and a vacuum of meaning is filled by secular fighting faiths, such as fascism and communism. Fascism gave its adherents a meaningful life of racial destiny. Communism taught its adherents to derive meaning from their participation in the eschatological drama of History’s unfolding destiny. The excruciating political paradox of modernity is that secularism advanced in part as moral revulsion against the bloody history of religious strife. But there is no precedent for bloodshed on the scale produced in the 20th century by secular — by political — faiths.

Therefore, even those of us who are members of the growing cohort that the Pew survey calls “nones,” even we — perhaps especially we — should wish continued vigor for the rich array of religious institutions that have leavened American life. We do so for reasons articulated by the most articulate American statesman.

In 1859, beneath gathering clouds of war and disunion, a successful railroad lawyer turned presidential aspirant addressed the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society. He concluded his speech with the story of an oriental despot who assigned to his wise men the task of devising a proposition to be carved in stone and be forever in view and forever true. After some while they returned to the despot and the proposition they offered to him was: “And this too shall pass away.” Only this, they argued, would be true until the end of time. How consoling that proposition is in times of grief, Lincoln said, and how chastening in times of pride. And yet, he insisted, it is not necessarily true. If we Americans cultivate the moral and intellectual world within us as assiduously and prodigiously as we cultivate the physical world around us, perhaps we shall long endure.

We have long endured. We shall endure further. This is so in large part because of America’s wholesome division of labor between political institutions and the institutions of civil society — including, especially, religious institutions — that mediate between the citizen and the state, and so make freedom possible.

Read the whole thing.

“The Horrible Decree” by Charles Wesley


Charles Wesley was a prolific hymnist, with approximately 9000 hymns and sacred poems to his name. Among my favorites are “And Can It Be?” and “O, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing!” Welsey–along with his brother John–were also a theological polemicist, however, who wrote his polemics into his songs. One of his most blunt anti-Calvinist hymns is “The Horrible Decree,” which refers to the Calvinist doctrine of limited atonement. Here’s the text of the hymn, not exactly in honor of Calvin’s birthday, but apropos of it nonetheless.

[1] Ah! Gentle, gracious Dove,
And art thou griev’d in me,
That sinners should restrain thy love,
And say, “It is not free:
It is not free for all:
The most, thou passest by,
And mockest with a fruitless call
Whom thou hast doom’d to die.”

[2] They think thee not sincere
In giving each his day,
“ Thou only draw’st the sinner near
To cast him quite away,
To aggravate his sin,
His sure damnation seal:
Thou shew’st him heaven, and say’st, go in
And thrusts him into hell.”38

[3] O HORRIBLE DECREE
Worthy of whence it came!
Forgive their hellish blasphemy
Who charge it on the Lamb:
Whose pity him inclin’d
To leave his throne above,
The friend, and Saviour of mankind,
The God of grace, and love.

[4] O gracious, loving Lord,
I feel thy bowels yearn;
For those who slight the gospel word
I share in thy concern:
How art thou grieved to be
By ransom’d worms withstood!
How dost thou bleed afresh to see
Them trample on thy blood!

[5] To limit thee they dare,
Blaspheme thee to thy face,
Deny their fellow-worms a share
In thy redeeming grace:
All for their own they take,
Thy righteousness engross,
Of none effect to most they make
The merits of thy cross.

[6] Sinners, abhor the fiend:
His other gospel hear—
“The God of truth did not intend
The thing his words declare,
He offers grace to all,
Which most cannot embrace,
Mock’d with an ineffectual call
And insufficient grace.

[7] “The righteous God consign’d
Them over to their doom,
And sent the Saviour of mankind
To damn them from the womb;
To damn for falling short,
“Of what they could not do,
For not believing the report
Of that which was not true.

[8] “The God of love pass’d by
The most of those that fell,
Ordain’d poor reprobates to die,
And forced them into hell.”
“He did not do the deed”
(Some have more mildly rav’d)
“He did not damn them—but decreed
They never should be saved.

[9] “He did not them bereave
Of life, or stop their breath,
His grace he only would not give,
And starv’ed their souls to death.”
Satanic sophistry!
But still, all-gracious God,
They charge the sinner’s death on thee,
Who bought’st him with thy blood.

[10] They think with shrieks and cries
To please the Lord of hosts,
And offer thee, in sacrifice
Millions of slaughter’d ghosts:
With new-born babes they fill
The dire infernal shade,
“For such,” they say, “was thy great will,
Before the world was made.”

[11] How long, O God, how long
Shall Satan’s rage proceed!
Wilt thou not soon avenge the wrong,
And crush the serpent’s head?
Surely thou shalt at last
Bruise him beneath our feet:
The devil and his doctrine cast
Into the burning pit.

[12] Arise, O God, arise,
Thy glorious truth maintain,
Hold forth the bloody sacrifice,
For every sinner slain!
Defend thy mercy’s cause,
Thy grace divinely free,
Lift up the standard of thy cross,
Draw all men unto thee.

[13] O vindicate thy grace,
Which every soul may prove,
Us in thy arms of love embrace,
Of everlasting love.
Give the pure gospel word,
Thy preachers multiply,
Let all confess their common Lord,
And dare for him to die.

[14] My life I here present,
My heart’s last drop of blood,
O let it all be freely spent
In proof that thou art good,
Art good to all that breathe,
Who all may pardon have:
Thou willest not the sinner’s death,
But all the world wouldst save.

[15] O take me at my word,
But arm me with thy power,
Then call me forth to suffer, Lord,
To meet the fiery hour:
In death will I proclaim
That all may hear thy call,
And clap my hands amidst the flame,
And shout,—HE DIED FOR ALL.

President Reagan’s Address at the Ceremony Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Normandy Invasion, D-Day at Point-du-Hoc: June 6, 1984


Here’s the text of the speech:

We’re here to mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For 4 long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue. Here in Normandy the rescue began. Here the Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.

We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but 40 years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June, 1944, 225 Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs. Their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns. The Allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here and they would be trained on the beaches to stop the Allied advance.

The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers — the edge of the cliffs shooting down at them with machineguns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After 2 days of fighting, only 90 could still bear arms.

Behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there.

These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.

Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender’s poem. You are men who in your “lives fought for life . . . and left the vivid air signed with your honor.”

I think I know what you may be thinking right now — thinking “we were just part of a bigger effort; everyone was brave that day.” Well, everyone was. Do you remember the story of Bill Millin of the 51st Highlanders? Forty years ago today, British troops were pinned down near a bridge, waiting desperately for help. Suddenly, they heard the sound of bagpipes, and some thought they were dreaming. Well, they weren’t. They looked up and saw Bill Millin with his bagpipes, leading the reinforcements and ignoring the smack of the bullets into the ground around him.

Lord Lovat was with him — Lord Lovat of Scotland, who calmly announced when he got to the bridge, “Sorry I’m a few minutes late,” as if he’d been delayed by a traffic jam, when in truth he’d just come from the bloody fighting on Sword Beach, which he and his men had just taken.

There was the impossible valor of the Poles who threw themselves between the enemy and the rest of Europe as the invasion took hold, and the unsurpassed courage of the Canadians who had already seen the horrors of war on this coast. They knew what awaited them there, but they would not be deterred. And once they hit Juno Beach, they never looked back.

All of these men were part of a rollcall of honor with names that spoke of a pride as bright as the colors they bore: the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, Poland’s 24th Lancers, the Royal Scots Fusiliers, the Screaming Eagles, the Yeomen of England’s armored divisions, the forces of Free France, the Coast Guard’s “Matchbox Fleet” and you, the American Rangers.

Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet, you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith and belief; it was loyalty and love.

The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge — and pray God we have not lost it — that there is a profound, moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.

You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One’s country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.

The Americans who fought here that morning knew word of the invasion was spreading through the darkness back home. They fought — or felt in their hearts, though they couldn’t know in fact, that in Georgia they were filling the churches at 4 a.m., in Kansas they were kneeling on their porches and praying, and in Philadelphia they were ringing the Liberty Bell.

Something else helped the men of D-day: their rockhard belief that Providence would have a great hand in the events that would unfold here; that God was an ally in this great cause. And so, the night before the invasion, when Colonel Wolverton asked his parachute troops to kneel with him in prayer he told them: Do not bow your heads, but look up so you can see God and ask His blessing in what we’re about to do. Also that night, General Matthew Ridgway on his cot, listening in the darkness for the promise God made to Joshua: “I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.”

These are the things that impelled them; these are the things that shaped the unity of the Allies.

When the war was over, there were lives to be rebuilt and governments to be returned to the people. There were nations to be reborn. Above all, there was a new peace to be assured. These were huge and daunting tasks. But the Allies summoned strength from the faith, belief, loyalty, and love of those who fell here. They rebuilt a new Europe together.

There was first a great reconciliation among those who had been enemies, all of whom had suffered so greatly. The United States did its part, creating the Marshall plan to help rebuild our allies and our former enemies. The Marshall plan led to the Atlantic alliance — a great alliance that serves to this day as our shield for freedom, for prosperity, and for peace.

In spite of our great efforts and successes, not all that followed the end of the war was happy or planned. Some liberated countries were lost. The great sadness of this loss echoes down to our own time in the streets of Warsaw, Prague, and East Berlin. Soviet troops that came to the center of this continent did not leave when peace came. They’re still there, uninvited, unwanted, unyielding, almost 40 years after the war. Because of this, allied forces still stand on this continent. Today, as 40 years ago, our armies are here for only one purpose — to protect and defend democracy. The only territories we hold are memorials like this one and graveyards where our heroes rest.

We in America have learned bitter lessons from two World Wars: It is better to be here ready to protect the peace, than to take blind shelter across the sea, rushing to respond only after freedom is lost. We’ve learned that isolationism never was and never will be an acceptable response to tyrannical governments with an expansionist intent.

But we try always to be prepared for peace; prepared to deter aggression; prepared to negotiate the reduction of arms; and, yes, prepared to reach out again in the spirit of reconciliation. In truth, there is no reconciliation we would welcome more than a reconciliation with the Soviet Union, so, together, we can lessen the risks of war, now and forever.

It’s fitting to remember here the great losses also suffered by the Russian people during World War II: 20 million perished, a terrible price that testifies to all the world the necessity of ending war. I tell you from my heart that we in the United States do not want war. We want to wipe from the face of the Earth the terrible weapons that man now has in his hands. And I tell you, we are ready to seize that beachhead. We look for some sign from the Soviet Union that they are willing to move forward, that they share our desire and love for peace, and that they will give up the ways of conquest. There must be a changing there that will allow us to turn our hope into action.

We will pray forever that some day that changing will come. But for now, particularly today, it is good and fitting to renew our commitment to each other, to our freedom, and to the alliance that protects it.

We are bound today by what bound us 40 years ago, the same loyalties, traditions, and beliefs. We’re bound by reality. The strength of America’s allies is vital to the United States, and the American security guarantee is essential to the continued freedom of Europe’s democracies. We were with you then; we are with you now. Your hopes are our hopes, and your destiny is our destiny.

Here, in this place where the West held together, let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. Let our actions say to them the words for which Matthew Ridgway listened: “I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.”

Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their value [valor], and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.

Thank you very much, and God bless you all.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: