Remarks Recorded for the "Back-to-God" Program of the American Legion.
THE FOUNDING FATHERS expressed in words for all to read the ideal of Government based upon the dignity of the individual. That ideal previously had existed only in the hearts and minds of men. They produced the timeless documents upon which the Nation is rounded and has grown great. They, recognizing God as the author of individual fights, declared that the purpose of Government is to secure those rights.
To you and to me this ideal of Government is a self-evident truth. But in many lands the State claims to be the author of human rights. The tragedy of that claim runs through all history and, indeed, dominates our own times. If the State gives rights, it can--and inevitably will--take away those rights.
Without God, there could be no American form of Government, nor an American way of life. Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first--the most basic--expression of Americanism. Thus the Founding Fathers saw it, and thus, with God's help, it will continue to be.
It is significant, I believe, that the American Legion--an organization of war veterans--has seen fit to conduct a "Back to God" movement as part of its Americanism program. Veterans realize, perhaps more clearly than others, the prior place that Almighty God holds in our national life. And they can appreciate, through personal experience, that the really decisive battleground of American freedom is in the hearts and minds of our own people.
Now, if I may make a personal observation--you, my fellow citizens, have bestowed upon my associates and myself, ordinary men, the honor and the duty of serving you in the administration of your Government. More and more we are conscious of the magnitude of that task.
The path we travel is narrow and long, beset with many dangers. Each day we must ask that Almighty God will set and keep His protecting hand over us so that we may pass on to those who come after us the heritage of a free people, secure in their God-given rights and in full control of a Government dedicated to the preservation of those rights. I can ask nothing more of each of you of all Americans--than that you join with the American Legion in its present campaign.
Note: The President's remarks were part of an American Legion program, which was broadcast over radio and television from 8:00 to 8:30 p.m.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Remarks Recorded for the "Back-to-God" Program of the American Legion. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233928