Public Papers and Letters of Oliver Max Gardner: Governor of North Carolina, 1929-1933

By Edwin Gill; David Leroy Corbitt | Go to book overview

times have been eminent and useful, but at this particular time I seriously doubt if any son of the State has ever been faced with greater responsibility or charged with higher national obligation than confronts Henry Stevens at this hour. He is the head of the most militant single group of American citizens. And while his predecessors have sustained notable programs, none of them has felt the same keen sense of responsible obligation as looks Henry Stevens so squarely in the face.

Today we are proud of you, of your achievement, and of your national honor. To be elected national commander of the American Legion at all is a most distinguished honor. To be elected national commander at the age of thirty-five is unprecedented. The youngest man ever to be elected national commander and thirteen years after the end of the war--that marks a man! That is why we are something more than proud of you. People have to love a man before they will bestow upon him their supreme honors. We, North Carolinians--your home folks--love you for what you are and were before you went to Detroit, and this we hold dearer than the happiness that swept in soft gales all over North Carolina when the news broke that Henry L. Stevens had been elected national commander of the American Legion.

I am here today to declare that the buddies of Henry Stevens have made no mistake. This young man, who spent his youth and early manhood in this town of Warsaw in the open air and sunshine, in simple, regular life, in healthful habits, independent, intelligent, and self reliant, is worthy of this great honor.

Men tell me that better soldiers than Henry Stevens did not go to France; that your fellow officers respected your courage, envied your coolness under pressure, and admired your leadership, and that where you went your men went. But you were not elected national com-

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