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Iwo Jima Sermon


This is the sermon delivered at the Marine Cemetery after the battle of Iwo Jima.  For me, it well sums up both the American creed and military virtue, which as Machiavelli rightly said, is the highest form of virtue.  It was delivered by Rabbi Roland Gittelsohn and was widely reproduced at the time, and is well worth our attention as we honor our heroes:

Here lie men who loved America because their ancestors generations ago
helped in her founding.  And other men who loved her with equal passion
because they themselves or their own fathers escaped from oppression to
her blessed shores.  Here lie officers and men, Negroes and Whites, rich
men and poor, together.  Here are Protestants, Catholics, and Jews
together.  Here no man prefers another because of his faith or despises
him because of his color.  Here there are no quotas of how many from each
group are admitted or allowed. Among these men there is no
discrimination. No prejudices. No hatred.  Theirs is the highest and
purest democracy.

Whosoever of us lifts his hand in hate against a brother, or who thinks
himself superior to those who happen to be in the minority, makes of this
ceremony and the bloody sacrifice it commemorates, an empty, hollow
mockery.  To this then, as our solemn sacred duty, do we the living now
dedicate ourselves: To the right of Protestants, Catholics, and Jews, of
White men and Negroes alike, to enjoy the democracy for which all of them
have here paid the price.

We here solemnly swear this shall not be in vain.  Out of this and from the suffering and sorrow of those who mourn this, will come, we promise, the birth of a new freedom for the sons of men everywhere.