Page:War Prisoners (Darrow).djvu/23

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23
WAR PRISONERS.

were leaving behind, and what they went to face. I remember one day one of these common soldiers suddenly rushed back to the end of the ship and jumped over into the ocean and of course was lost. This showed the dread he had. And there was a dread buttoned under the jackets of most of them. It was a hard job. Nobody has the right to speak of it lightly or to misinterpret the depth of the sacrifice or the reasons that moved the boys.

There is no need, after the war is over, for keeping a conscientious objector who thought he was doing right, or a man who was afraid to fight.

There are a lot of by-products of war; some of them good; some of them bad. Good and evil in this world come in mixed doses, and sometimes you cannot distinguish between the good and the evil. The thing that you thought was evil may work for good and the thing you thought was good may work for evil. Everything is mixed and involved. Every one is anxious to take advantage of what there is. A strong element of society, under the cry of a sort of super-patriotism is today doing all that can be done to crush out the liberties of the American people! They would leave it an offense to speak and to write and to print; under the guise of what they call patriotism, they would say institutions must not change, and yet this is a world of change. They would seize those whom they believe to be against them, send them to jail, because they are violating the powers that be. They would indiscriminately deport all aliens who express opinions they do not wish to hear. They would put to shame the founders who dedicated America to freedom and made of it the asylum for the poor and oppressed of every land.

Again I say, eternal vigilance is the price of liberty! Freedom cannot be maintained by constitutions. Bancroft, in his Constitutional History of the United States, wrote down long ago, that when the spirit of liberty had fled from the hearts of the people, real freedom was sacrificed under the forms of law!

The only way to keep liberty alive is to keep it alive in the hearts of the people; otherwise it must perish from the earth. The world has gone through a terrible ordeal. It is only to be expected that chaos and disorder, all kinds of conflicting theories and views would spring from it. It is a day of flux. Every man, every party, every seat and every ism, is trying to get the best out of a chaotic world.