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Harry S. Truman: Informal Remarks in San Antonio, Texas.
Harry S. Truman
210 - Informal Remarks in San Antonio, Texas.
September 26, 1948
Public Papers of the Presidents
Harry S. Truman<br>1948
Harry S. Truman

United States
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[1.] THE ALAMO (2:35 p.m.)

Mr. Mayor, the Governor of Texas, and distinguished guests:

I appreciate the privilege today of spending Sunday in San Antonio.

I had the opportunity this morning to attend the services in the First Baptist Church, and I have this afternoon been taken on a sightseeing tour of the old Governor's Palace and to the Alamo. I have been through the Alamo before, but I never had so able a guide as I had today. There were a great many things that I was not familiar with.

This, of course, stands as one of the historic monuments of the world, a monument to heroism, a monument to the fight for liberty all over the world.

The one ambition that I have is to see a peaceful, happy world. If that can't be accomplished, there is nothing else worthwhile.

I wish I were in a position today to discuss a great many things with you, but I have made it a rule during my whole political life not to make speeches or otherwise on the Sabbath. Therefore, I am merely thanking you for a most pleasant day in San Antonio, and I hope some time or other I may be able to come back here and talk to you freely and frankly from the shoulder.

Thank you very much.

[2.] GUNTER HOTEL (Dinner, 9:10 p.m.)

Mr. Chairman, Governor Jester, Your Excellency, Sam, distinguished guests, and ladies and gentlemen--fellow Democrats:

I can't tell you how much I appreciate the hospitality of this great State of Texas, nor can I express to you in words the appreciation which I feel for the magnificent welcome which I have received since coming into this great State at El Paso. In every city and town, it looked as if everybody was there. From hundreds of miles they came out to welcome the President of the United States in the great State of Texas. And at San Antonio it has been the climax. I had expected that Sunday would be bare of population. I thought those who didn't go to church would probably go out to the golf course, that there would be very few people in the town, but I have seen just as many people as I saw in San Francisco, in Los Angeles, in San Diego, in Salt Lake City, in Denver and Des Moines, Iowa. It gets bigger and better as we go along.

I believe the people are interested in the general welfare of the country, and that is highly appreciated. And, Sam, my mother used to say that the difference between Baptists--you and me--is that you are a hard-shell Baptist and I am a light-foot Baptist. I don't 'know exactly how to define that. If it weren't Sunday, I think I could do it very handily.

Your great city here has some monuments which are magnificent and which mean much to the human race as a whole. I went into your Governor's Palace after lunch today, and the lady in charge there showed me around and told me the stories about the Governor's Palace, and suggested that I throw a penny into the Wishing Well, and make a wish.

I had a lot of newspapermen along with me, and they thought they could guess that wish.

You are wrong! And so were they!

I wish for only one thing and that is all I ever wish for, and that is peace in the world.

As I stood in the Alamo and read that letter of Colonel Travis, and then read the letter of the boy that got the black bean, it came to me that those men and boys--and a lot of them were only boys--were standing for something for which this great country has fought 3 or 4 wars. It really makes the chills go up and down your spine, makes you wonder why.

Because there are in every country in the world shrines like this. When I was in Mexico City early last year, I was asked if I would place a wreath on the Ninos heroes' monument at Chapultepec.

You know, those were a bunch of students like our West Point cadets. One of those boys took the Mexican flag and wrapped it around him, so it wouldn't be captured and jumped off Chapultepec some 230-odd feet, and of course was instantly killed--and three or four boys were killed with him defending him and the flag.

Now, they were fighting us, but they were fighting for their country and their flag, just as the heroes of the Alamo were fighting for Texas and your freedom.

You go to Greece and you will find Thermopylae, where all was lost save the messenger. The Alamo had no messenger. But they are exactly alike, except that one man got away. You will find shrines in Great Britain, you will find shrines in France, and Belgium and Holland, and nearly every place in the world--shrines just like the Alamo, which mean the same thing: liberty and freedom in the world.

Now, why can't we work together? Why can't we find some common ground on which to settle the difficulties of the world, just as the 13 Colonies found a way to settle their differences in 1787, when they met to work out the Constitution of the United States--which is the greatest document of government in the history of the world ?

The reason it is the greatest document in the history of the world is that it was rounded on just one thing: the right of the individual to fair treatment under his government.

Our Government is made up of the people. You are the Government. I am only your hired servant. I am the Chief Executive of the greatest nation in the world, the highest honor that can ever come to a man on earth. But I am the servant of the people of the United States. They are not my servants. I can't order you around, or send you to labor camps, or have your heads cut off if you don't agree with me politically. We don't believe in that.

And what we are trying to do is sell the world on the idea that peace is the best policy.

As old Benjamin Franklin said: honesty is the best policy. If you study that a long time, it has implications. Well, in our day: peace is the best policy for the world.

In 1917-18 we declared war on Germany. We had to declare war on Japan and Germany and their allies in 1941 for exactly the same reason. But in 1917-18 we didn't learn anything. We thought we could come back here and enclose ourselves in a high tariff wall and with two oceans, and still be just as we had been up to that time.

But the world moves forward, it doesn't move back. You can't turn the clock back. Your great Archbishop here tonight made a magnificent petition to the Throne of Almighty God, a petition which I sincerely hope and which I believe He heard. If we would only indulge in that same petition day after day and year after year, whether it is Sunday or Monday or Tuesday, or whatever day! While the Sabbath is the day of rest, and is God's day, every day is God's day.

I believe that if we ourselves try to live as we should, and if we continue to work for peace in this world, and as the old Puritan said, "Keep your bullets bright and your powder dry," eventually we will get peace in this world, because that is the only way we can survive with the modern inventions under which we live.

We have got to harness these inventions for the welfare of man, instead of his destruction.

That is what I am interested in. That is what I am working for.

That is much more important than whether I am President of the United States.

Note: In the course of his remarks on September 26 the President referred to Mayor Alfred Callaghan of San Antonio, Governor Beauford H. Jester, and Representative Sam Rayburn, all of Texas.
Citation: Harry S. Truman: "Informal Remarks in San Antonio, Texas.," September 26, 1948. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=13018.
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