Four years ago, I did a post called, dangerously, Addicted to Hitler Radio. In the post I wrote, in part:
However, the vast majority of what it plays on this customer-made station (Adolf Hitler Radio – see above) are recordings of speeches from the likes of FDR, Churchill, and Harry Truman. I’ve never really listened to old speeches before, but by God, they are fascinating. It’s like being whisked back in time and listening to history as it was actually happening.
I seem to have returned to this “mode”, because for many days now, I’ve been listening to random speeches from the middle of the 20th century: Eisenhower, Truman, Reagan, Churchill, and so on.
There are a few things that I find striking, and consistent, while listening to these:
- Men: There was no canard about fifty-seven genders. All the speeches referred to humanity as if men were the only gender. Brave men did this. Courageous men did that. The nation will rise up as one man and do thus-and-such. And so on. I’ve got to admit, I’m kind of jealous of the era. Not that women should have been deliberately excluded. But it sure was a time-saver since they didn’t have to cover every single possibility to make sure some freak wasn’t offended.
- Values: Everything they said was anchored in clear, easily-understood values. Freedom. Democracy. Peace. The United States seemed like a place with very well-understood, widely-embraced ideals. We were all pulling in the same direction. Of course, there’s nothing more unifying for a people than to have a common enemy.
- God: This is the one which impressed me the most. And I’m not talking about the desultory “God bless America” that every politician mumbles at the end of everything they say. God was a big force in these speeches. He was guiding us. He had brought grace upon us. He would see us through these travails. These major political leaders spoke of God without embarrassment, discomfort, or because focus groups suggested they do so. You could tell they really believed in what they were saying, and they saw the United States as a God-driven agent of good in a very dangerous world.
I’m way too young to be nostalgic about the 1950s, but honestly, this is truly inspiring to listen to the men of this era. I think our hearts will break, in the years to come, when we come to realize what a principled era this was in our history.