The Corner

Rendezvous with Destiny: My Bleg Answered

From Prof. Matthew Franck of Radford University, and of NRO’s “Bench Memos,” who sure as heck knows his way around American texts, and to whom I am grateful:

Peter,

Roosevelt quoted himself twice, the second time during the war. The first was in the peroration of his annual message to Congress (state of the Union) of 4 January 1939:

’Events abroad have made it increasingly clear to the American people that dangers within are less to be feared than dangers from without. If, therefore, a solution of this problem of idle men and idle capital is the price of preserving our liberty, no formless selfish fears can stand in the way.

Once I prophesied that this generation of Americans had a rendezvous with destiny. That prophecy comes true. To us much is given; more is expected.

’This generation will “nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope of earth. . . . The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just—a way which if followed the world will forever applaud and God must forever bless.”’

The second time was in his message to Congress on the Bretton Woods Agreements, 12 February 1945, in the second paragraph:

’As we dedicate our total efforts to the task of winning this war we must never lose sight of the fact that victory is not only an end in itself but, in a large sense, victory offers us the means of achieving the goal of lasting peace and a better way of life. Victory does not insure the achievement of these larger goals—it merely offers us the opportunity—the chance—to seek their attainment. Whether we will have the courage and vision to avail ourselves of this tremendous opportunity—purchased at so great a cost—is yet to be determined. On our shoulders rests the heavy responsibility for making this momentous decision. I have said before, and I repeat again: This generation has a rendezvous with destiny.’

Peter Robinson — Peter M. Robinson is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

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