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Orland Steen Loomis

Attorney General, State of Wisconsin
Nov. 11, 1937
Notes Transcribed by John Elmer Loomis
and Laurie Loomis Dunn
February 2018

Armistice Day 1937
From notecards of Orland Steen Loomis
Boscobel, Wisconsin

Nineteen years ago today, the guns on the Western front in Europe were suddenly silent.
The greatest conflict was at its end. It seemed that the forces of death, destruction and desolation
were exhausted throughout the world. The black clouds of war were finally receding, leaving
behind a torn and bleeding world.
But liberty and justice had triumphed. Popular governments were more secure and modern
civilizations had been preserved.
We gather here today to commemorate and celebrate the outcome of that war. Not to
glorify war, but to renew our pledge to American Institutions and Ideals. We proclaim our
gratitude for peace. We must impress upon our youth the manifest blessing of peace.
The last war ended 19 years ago. We celebrate yearly to teach our schoolchildren who are
too young to understand. They had not yet been born and do not realize either the great cost or
the destruction caused by the war. For them, we recall the history.
On this Armistice Day anniversary, we remember the fighting lasted four years, 1914-1918.
The US Army was involved in the final year and a half of the conflict. 2 million men from the
US served; 2 million men in France. The central powers were facing defeat when Armistice was
declared. This provided a breathing spell, followed by the peace treaty in June, the Treaty of
Versailles. November 11 was the actual end of the war.

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World War I came at a large human cost. More than 37 million people were killed,
wounded and mutilated. Seven million killed in action including nearly 200 thousand
Americans. Forty five thousand were hospitalized. Like the Pyrrhic victory (Greece 280-275
B.C.E.) no one really won, the costs being so high that everyone lost.
The war was fought to end tyranny and make the world safe for democracy. We advanced
from monarchy and tyranny to a world of Democracy. History shows that for 400 years, people
fought to wipe out tyranny, to abolish arbitrary and irrational power. The people won, at the cost
of lives, blood and sacrifice. We won the protection of our rights: to create our own destiny, equal
opportunities for all, religious tolerance, no unlawful searches and seizures, freedom of speech
and the press, equality before the law, trial by an impartial tribunal, the right to reasonable
settlements for public good.
Today, we take a look at Europe. Three hundred fifty million people saw democracy
thrown over by dictatorships, where brutal power exalted a new science of government. Those
governments, on the left, Communism, on the right, Fascism. Both are reactionary. Both are
dictatorships of classes.
Both types of government substituted intolerance for tolerance, court martial instead of
civil trials, and using troops for spying. There are dictators, where one man makes laws with no
legislative input, enforces his law with his own chosen officers, and interprets his law without
impartial courts. Whether Fascist or Communist, those governments have crushed labor
organizing. Labor is thus enslaved to capital, and the capital is being used for munition
manufacturing.
Here we are on the verge of another war.
The current American crisis is thus. We are passing thru the worst economy since the end
of the Civil War. We are stabilizing our banks. Many farmers are refinancing. Homeowners are
refinancing. Corporations are reorganizing.
The real crisis today is not economic, it is one of government. The question is: Do we
follow the Europe of today in their form of government? We will not. We want neither
Communism, nor do we want Fascism, but we want to retain our Democracy. We must make it
work.

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The remedy for this crisis is action by our government. We have seen lines of people in
marches in Europe, with no action being taken by government to help. People are starving,
existing in a state of privation and misery. There is no security for the people.
America took no action during the depression of 1929-1933. Finally, in 1933-34 our
government took action to promote social security and economic security of our people with the
New Deal. New programs to help our youth include the Civil Conservation Corps providing
public works jobs, and the National Youth Administration, providing work training and education
for those ages 18-25 who are in need.
New housing programs were put into motion for those ill housed. The Parklawn project in
Milwaukee is a good example. A slum was cleared and replaced with low income housing. Also,
the Rural Electrification Administration of Wisconsin was established by Governor Phil
LaFollette. The Wisconsin REA brought electrical service to ill served areas. Twenty some
thousand customers received electrical service at affordable rates.
Action has been taken to help those employed to remedy fear of loss of job through no fault
of the employee. The National Unemployment Compensation Law was passed in1932 and the
State of Wisconsin also passed this year, 1937, an additional level of help with the Wisconsin
Employment Relations Act. Fifty two thousand men receive help at a cost of one half million
dollars per year.
Our labor has yet another fear, that of security. Labor was unable to bargain and unable to
settle differences with their employers. The Wisconsin Employment Relations Act established the
Wisconsin Labor Relations Board to provide protection for the laborer. It has now settled seventy
five cases, with only a few as yet unsettled. This is good for the security of the employer, and the
security of the worker, and the security of the whole of our society.
The New Deal has provided needed Social Security for pensioners. Support is needed for
unwed mothers and those blind and otherwise disabled. Thirty three thousand people are being
paid per year, and more need help.
The unemployed are in a war-like situation. It is a dreadful and drab situation. They feel
swept away by a high tide, alone and forgotten. More action needs to take place by creating more
public works programs. For example, we could work on soil erosion. Even more so, we must make
the effort to protect human erosion of the unemployed.

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All the above programs mean security for all of us. These efforts to help those in need will
help preserve our democracy. We need action by government to improve people’s sense of
security, to protect jobs and income, and to ensure enough food, a safe home for all and
protection for businesses. We need action by government to provide for a better and fuller life for
all people with schools, highways, health care, and electrification.
America is advancing. We must have faith that we will succeed. We must use our
intelligence and abilities. We must employ courage and apply vision for our future.
We have not lost faith. I am happy to see you here today. I know you, too, have faith in
America and revere our American Institutions. I know we must and will all work together.
Let me share with you part of The Blue and The Gray, by Francis Miles Finch.

The Blue And The Gray

Francis Miles Finch (1827-1907)

By the flow of the inland river,
Whence the fleets of iron have fled,
Where the blades of the grave-grass quiver,
Asleep are the ranks of the dead:
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment-day;
Under the one, the Blue,
Under the other, the Gray….

No more shall the war cry sever,
Or the winding rivers be red;
Then banish our anger forever
When they laurel the graves of our dead!
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment-day,
Love and tears for the Blue,
Tears and love for the Gray.

__________________

Sometimes, however, I wonder how we can achieve the great amount of faith needed that
we can meet our many challenges, and how we can be successful in spite of the miles of
seaboards on our borders, the many races and creeds of our people, and the complexity of the
problems.

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Yet, I know the reason we can find faith is that we live in a land of opportunity with a
working Democracy, and actions are being taken by our government. We have national unity for
the greater good of one people, under one language and one flag.
We must look to the future and work for the preservation of our American Democracy. We
must think of the past, the present and the future. We must think in terms of unity under one
flag, for our soldiers, our men and women, and the greater good for all our people.

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