(Soong Mei-ling, “Addresses to the House of Respresentatives and to the Senate,” February 18, 1943.)
Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives of the United States:
At any time it would be a privilege for me to address Congress, more especially this present august body which will have so much to do in shaping the destiny of the world. In speaking to Congress I am literally speaking to the American people. The Seventy-seventh Congress, as their representatives, fulfilled the obligations and responsibilities of its trust by declaring war on the aggressors. That part of the duty of the people’s representatives was discharged in 1941. The task now confronting you is to help win the war and to create and uphold a lasting peace which will justify the sacrifices and sufferings of the victims of aggression.
Before enlarging on this subject, I should like to tell you a little about my long and vividly interesting trip to your country from my own land which has bled and borne unflinchingly the burden of war for more than 5 1/2 years. I shall not dwell, however, upon the part China has played in our united effort to free mankind from brutality and violence. I shall try to convey to you, however imperfectly, the impressions gained during the trip.
First of all, I want to assure you that the American people have every right to be proud of their fighting men in so many parts of the world. I am particularly thinking of those of your boys in the far-flung, ut-of-the-way stations and areas where life is attended by dreary drabness—this because their duty is not one of spectacular performance and they are not buoyed up by excitement of battle. They are called upon, day after colorless day, to perform routine duties such as safeguarding defenses and preparing for possible enemy action. It has been said, and I find it true from personal experience, that it is easier to risk one’s life on the battlefield than it is to perform customary humble and humdrum duties which, however, are just as necessary to winning the war. Some of your troops are stationed in isolated spots quite out of reach of ordinary communications. Some of your boys have had to fly hundreds of hours over the sea from an improvised airfield in quests often disappointingly fruitless, of enemy submarines.
They, and others, have to stand the monotony of waiting—just waiting. But, as I told them, true patriotism lies in possessing the morale and physical stamina to perform faithfully and conscientiously the daily tasks so that in the sum total the weakest link is the strongest.
Your soldiers have shown conclusively that they are able stoically to endure homesickness, the glaring dryness, and scorching heat of the Tropics, and keep themselves fit and in excellent fighting trim. They are amongst the unsung heroes of this war, and everything possible to lighten their tedium and buoy up theirmorale should be done. That sacred duty is yours. The American Army is better fed than any army in the world. This does not mean, however, that they can live indefinitely on canned food without having the effects tell on them. These admittedly are the minor hardships of war, especially when we pause to consider that in many parts of the world, starvation prevails. But peculiarly enough, oftentimes it is not the major problems of existence which irk a man’s soul; it is rather the pin pricks, especially those incidental to a life of deadly sameness, with tempers frayed out and nervous systems torn to shreds.
The second impression of my trip is that America is not only the cauldron of democracy, but the incubator of democratic principles. At some of the places I visited, I met the crews of your air bases. There I found first generation Germans, Italians, Frenchmen, Poles, Czechoslovakians, and other nationals. Some of them had accents so thick that, if such a thing were possible, one could not cut them with a butter knife. But there they were—all Americans, all devoted to the same ideals, all working for the same cause and united by the same high purpose. No suspicion or rivalry existed between them. This increased my belief and faith that devotion to common principles eliminates differences in race, and that identity of ideals is the strongest possible solvent of racial dissimilarities.
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