Honor in Public Life

Life Lines
Volume 7, Issue 21
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Some of former President Herbert Hoover’s most lasting observations concerned honor in public life. In a speech in 1951 at Des Moines, Iowa, Mr. Hoover said:

"There are some Old things that made this country. There is the Old Virtue of religious faith. There are the Old Virtues of integrity and the whole truth. There is the Old Virtue of incorruptible service and honor in public office.

"There are the Old Virtues of economy in government, of self-reliance, thrift and individual liberty. There are the Old Virtues of patriotism, real love of country and willingness to sacrifice for it.

"These ‘Old’ ideas are very inexpensive. They even would help win hot and cold wars. I realize that such suggestions will raise that cuss word, ‘Reactionary,’ but some of these Old things are slipping badly in American life. And if they slip too far, the lights will go out of America, even if we win these cold and hot wars. Think about it.

"Our greatest danger is not from invasion by foreign enemies. Our dangers are that we may commit suicide from within by complaisance with evil. Or by public tolerance of scandalous behavior. Or by cynical acceptance of dishonor. These evils have defeated nations many times in human history.…Think about it."