. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – President Truman addresses closing of San Francisco Conference – June 26, 1945 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection.
70 years ago today, on June 26, 1945 there was cause for celebration. A cautious one, because we were still in the middle of the war in the Pacific, but an optimistic cause for celebration because the groundwork had been laid for the establishment of the United Nations.
On April 25th that year the conference was opened. Days after the death of Franklin Roosevelt and a war being fought on several fronts, but drawing to a close in Europe, it was still clouded in pessimism and sadness. President Truman addressed the opening of the conference on a note of caution.
But after almost three months of endless negotiations, writing, re-writing, debating and compromise, a Charter for the United Nations was ready. And what had been the ruins of a failed League of Nations, was now reborn with new purpose and The United Nations was born.
President Truman: “You assembled in San Francisco nine weeks ago with the high hope and confidence of peace-loving people the world over.
Their confidence in you has been justified.
Their hope for your success has been fulfilled.
The Charter of the United Nations which you have just signed is a solid structure upon which we can build a better world. History will honor you for it. Between the victory in Europe and the final victory in Japan, in this most destructive of all wars, you have won a victory against war itself.
It was the hope of such a Charter that helped sustain the courage of stricken peoples through the darkest days of the war. For it is a declaration of great faith by the nations of the earth–faith that war is not inevitable, faith that peace can be maintained.
If we had had this Charter a few years ago-and above all, the will to use it–millions now dead would be alive. If we should falter in the future in our will to use it, millions now living will surely die.
It has already been said by many that this is only a first step to a lasting peace. That is true. The important thing is that all our thinking and all our actions be based on the realization that it is in fact only a first step. Let us all have it firmly in mind that we start today from a good beginning and, with our eye always on the final objective, let us march forward.
The Constitution of my own country came from a Convention which–like this one–was made up of delegates with many different views. Like this Charter, our Constitution came from a free and sometimes bitter exchange of conflicting opinions. When it was adopted, no one regarded it as a perfect document. But it grew and developed and expanded. And upon it there was built a bigger, a better, a more perfect union.
This Charter, like our own Constitution, will be expanded and improved as time goes on. No one claims that it is now a final or a perfect instrument. It has not been poured into any fixed mold. Changing world conditions will require readjustments–but they will be the readjustments of peace and not of war.”
No easy road, even after the Charter had been signed. But like all things, it was a start.
Here is that complete address, as it was broadcast on June 26, 1945.
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