Pages 62 – 63 / 1942

What is America doing?

This is the question which in the past few months has been in the minds if not on the lips of most of us here in Changi; but before it can be answered a few preliminary remarks are necessary to elucidate the position.

America was once a British colony which on the 4th of July, 1776 gained its independence. The significant fact was that the revolt itself was led by the English settlers themselves against those who sought to dictate from across the seas.

Then followed a period of expansion during which the pioneers set out to build a great nation. They went out in covered wagons, suffered terrible hardships, fought the Red Indians and paved the way with their lives blood for those who were to follow later. Not only had they to fight men, but they had to endure the vagaries of nature. They climbed snow clad mountains, endured bitter cold, crossed swollen and raging torrents, travelled over thousands of miles of prairie land and desert, cut down large forests and finally built small towns which were later to develop into the great and famous cities of America now known to world over. Nor were these the only difficulties they had to overcome as lawlessness, savagery, cunning and deceit had to be conquered, and the birth pangs of the development of a new had to be endured. Their struggle developed into one for the survival of the fittest and in many cases “Judge Colt” reigned supreme. All this helped to mould the minds, the hearts and the characters of the generation that followed these hardy pioneers.

It was during the course of this great struggle that the tragedy of the Civil War overtook them. As is well known, the Northern states, the unionists, fought the southern states, the confederates, primarily over the question of slavery. This bitter struggle lasted for four years after which the united states were formed with Abraham Lincoln, the leader of the union, becoming the first president, so showing the world what a freedom loving country America really was Lincoln’s stirring speech, made after the battle of Gettyberg, included those glorious words “All men are born equal to liberty, freedom and the pursuit of happiness” “this great principle has spurred on the American nation over since and has made her the great world power she is today.

In the last Great War of 1914-18 America kept out of the conflict, increasing her wealth until she became the richest country in the world. Being so isolated as she was the troubles of a war torn Europe did not affect her until the Kaiser started dictating to her and so caused the entry of America into the war. Her vast and powerful resources swung the scales in favour of the Allies and a year later the German Army retreated into the Father land and asked for an armistice. In that short space of time 360,000 Americans gave up their lives upon the soil of a foreign country in order that freedom and liberty should again be restored to those nations which had had these great privileges ruthlessly trampled upon and taken away from them by a savage and brutal nation of despots and degenerates.

And now at this present moment America is engaged again in a war against the self same nation and all those who have branded themselves together under the Axis power. Bearing in mind the size of the country, the cosmopolitan population and the numerous difficulties which confronted the nation, it can be realized what a dangerous and awkward position the U.S.A was in, having had suddenly hurled at her, out of the blue, three declarations of war by three of the leading world powers. It is comforting even though the government was temporarily unbalanced, the recovery was very rapid. America has placed her stupendous production, her vast natural resources, and her tremendous man power at the disposal of the Allies, and in this common cause is the heart and soul of the American people, for they have given proof and testimony of their firm purpose of establishing peace again in this once more war stricken world.

Japan, instrumental in bringing the U.S.A into the war, attacked treacherously and without warning while their diplomats were negotiating in the Senate House in Washington. Despite these early setbacks to the Allies, including the attack on Pearl Harbour and the loss of Malaya, the Pillipines, Java and Sumatra, and including the American loses at Wake, Guam and Midway Island, the efforts of the U.S.A were not seriously impeded and she succeeded in dispatching to the scenes of the conflict all the man power, munitions, ships and planes that were available. Help was also sent to Australia and New Zealand, two countries faced with possible invasion at any moment. This later feat itself was no small achievement, entailing as it did the crossing of many miles of ocean, and the highest praise is due to the United States Navy for the fine work that they have done and still are doing.

In one of the numerous engagements at present taking place in the Pacific the U.S.S Huston, the flagship of the Pacific Squadron, went down in a gallant fight against vastly superior numbers, still flying the glorious star spangled banner – “Old Glory” The story of her fight is told in verse below, composed by one of her survivors who has lived to tell the tale of her deeds which have earned for her a place in the nations “Hall of Fame”. Honour and respect those men who served and died on her, for their heroic bravery and courage is the symbol of the American nation, and of the great work America is doing and will continue to do until final victory is won.