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Proclamation 6443—Week for the National Observance of the 50th Anniversary of World War II, 1992

June 04, 1992

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

At a time when more and more nations are adopting systems of government based on respect for human rights, it may be difficult for many young Americans to fathom the days when the very existence of freedom stood at the heart of a fierce global battle -- one in which the United States and its Allies faced totalitarian regimes intent on achieving regional hegemony and world domination. Yet remember those days we must, because however remote the events of a half-century ago may appear today, World War II offers lessons that are vital to the continued preservation of our freedom and security.

At its most fundamental level, World War II was a struggle to preserve our way of life. As President Franklin Roosevelt said in late 1941:

What we face is nothing more or less than an attempt to overthrow and to cancel out the great upsurge of human liberty of which the American Bill of Rights is the fundamental document: to force the peoples of the earth . . . to accept again the absolute authority and despotic rule from which the courage and the resolution and the sacrifices of their ancestors liberated them many, many years ago.

During World War II, the United States and its Allies were pitted against tyrannical regimes that would brutally deny the God-given rights and dignity of the individual, that would repress freedom of speech and subordinate the individual and family to the whims of the state, and that would exterminate entire peoples while enslaving others through systematic intimidation, repression, and the use of force.

The people of the United States met this threat with an extraordinary display of unity, courage, and resolve. By January 1, 1942, only a few weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, more than 100,000 Americans rushed to enlist in the Armed Forces. Before the war ended, more than 16,000,000 Americans would serve in uniform, and some 400,000 would make the supreme sacrifice in the defense of freedom. In the first year of our Nation's participation in World War II, as U.S. and Allied forces fought in places such as Bataan and Corregidor, the North Atlantic, and the Coral Sea, countless citizens prayed at home, church, and school while millions of others worked virtually around-the-clock to maximize the production of our farms, factories, mines, and shipyards. Tested and proven in historic victories at Midway and Guadalcanal, in General MacArthur's celebrated "leapfrog" up the 1,500-mile coast of New Guinea, and in daring Allied campaigns across North Africa, this united front against tyranny would not falter or fail throughout the remaining years of the war.

We Americans have learned many lessons from our experience in World War II, one of the first being that no aggressor, no matter how ruthless or cunning, can match the loyalty and devotion of a free people to the ideals of liberty and self-government. Americans also learned, as President Roosevelt said, "that we cannot live alone, at peace; that our well-being is dependent on the well-being of other nations far away." The Allied victory in World War II affirmed U.S. leadership in global affairs and underscored the importance of promoting constructive dialogue among nations in an increasingly interdependent world.

Clearly, the lessons of World War II are timeless. When we reflect on the course of events 50 years ago and then consider the recent emergence of democratic nations around the globe, we recognize, as did President Truman, that the spirit of liberty and the inherent dignity and freedom of the individual "are the strongest and toughest and most enduring forces in all the world."

This week, as we celebrate our freedom in our places of worship and in our halls of government, in private thanksgiving and in public ceremony, let us honor our Nation's World War II veterans, especially the infirm and the hospitalized, and let us remember with grateful prayers those heroic individuals who died in battle so that others might live in freedom, peace, and safety. Finally, let us commit to memory the lessons of World War II and strive, through our constant vigilance and labors, to make them the basis of larger freedom and lasting peace among all humankind.

The Congress, by Public Law 102-290, has designated the week beginning May 31, 1992, as a "Week for the National Observance of the 50th Anniversary of World War II."

Now, Therefore, I, George Bush, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the week of May 31 through June 6, 1992, as a Week for the National Observance of the 50th Anniversary of World War II. I call on all Americans to observe this week with appropriate programs and activities.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this 4 day of June, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and sixteenth.

Signature of George Bush


George Bush, Proclamation 6443—Week for the National Observance of the 50th Anniversary of World War II, 1992 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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