1. Home
  2. Library Collections
  3. Public Papers
  4. Address at Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida

Address at Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida

March 8, 1949

Governor Warren, President Holt, distinguished educators, and all the friends of this great school:

This is for me a very happy and a very solemn occasion. The Governor's address was a masterpiece. It covers the situation with which we are faced. It brings to realization a hope that I have long entertained. I am deeply sensitive of the honor which this college has bestowed upon me.

Rollins College has served the State of Florida and the Nation faithfully and well through more than 3 score years. I shall always treasure the memory of this day and the parchment which admits me into the noble society of Rollins alumni. The men and women which this institution has given the world now for 60-odd years have upheld the ideals of democracy wherever they have found their life work.

It gives me special pleasure by my presence here today to bear witness to the debt which we owe to the man who has guided the destinies of Rollins College for almost a quarter of a century--Dr. Holt.

Since he assumed the presidency of this institution he has made it a focal point in our effort to educate American youth in principles of freedom under true democracy. You know, there is not a word in the English language that has been so severely abused during the last 10 years as that word democracy. Some people make a travesty of that word. That is one of the greatest words in the history of the English language, and it should stand for just exactly what we mean when we say democracy, and not for a counterfeit.

Dr. Holt has brought to his work distinguished leadership with a background of accomplishment in many fields. Although he will soon retire from active academic work, he will continue his labors for peace and international good will.

Never before has this country needed as it does today the leadership of thoroughly trained men and women. We must have leaders inspired from their earliest years with the ideals of true democracy.

Education is our first line of defense. In the conflict of principle and policy which divides the world today, America's hope-our hope--the hope of the world, is in education. Through education alone can we combat the tenets of communism. The unfettered soul of free man offers a spiritual defense unconquered and unconquerable.

We may not know what is behind the Iron Curtain, but we do know that the intelligence of the people in the embattled democracies of Europe, who live in front of the Iron Curtain, is the world's best hope for peace today.

Education is the most important task before us. The Congress should enact legislation authorizing Federal grants to the States to assist in meeting the operating expenses of elementary and secondary schools. There is general agreement that such aid can be given without interference with State responsibility for the scope and content of the teaching.

If our country is to retain its freedom in a world of conflicting political philosophies, we must take steps to assure that every American youth shall receive the highest level of training by which he can profit.

A soundly conceived Federal scholarship program in our colleges and universities is a necessary step in attaining this goal.

Education has been defined as a bulwark against the acids of fascism and communism. Neither of these totalitarian forms of government can survive examination by educated men and women--men and women free to search for the truth and imbued with the principles of liberty set forth in the preamble to the Constitution of the United States-the greatest document of government, in my opinion, that has ever been written by the hand of man. That Constitution gives us the ability to live together in peace. It gives us the ability to see that justice comes to every man, be he big or be he small, be he rich or be he poor.

If this great institution will continue to turn out leaders, I am not at all afraid of what the next generation in the world will bring forth.

We are working for peace. We want peace. We pray for peace all the time in the world. And to attain that peace, we must all learn how to live together peaceably, and do to our neighbors as we would have our neighbors do to us. Then we will have a happy world, and that's what we want.

NOTE: The President spoke at 12:25 p.m. in the Chapel at Rollins College, at a special convocation held in his honor. In his opening words the President referred to Fuller Warren, Governor of Florida, and Dr. Hamilton Holt, president of Rollins College.

Shortly before the President spoke he received the institution's degree of Doctor of Humanities.