In 1943, the Service Men’s Christian League held a writing contest asking the men of the armed forces what they were fighting for. This is one of four of their essays published in The Saturday Evening Post.
I’m fighting for that big white house with the bright green roof and the big front lawn, the house that I lived in before Hitler and the Japanese came into my life. I am fighting for those two big sycamore trees on the lawn where my brother and I spent so many happy and never-to-be-forgotten hours.
I am fighting for that little sister of mine, the one in the eighth grade, the one who shed so many tears when her brothers went marching off to war. I am fighting for those two gray-haired grown-ups who live in that house right now. Those two people who fought so hard to give those boys a good education, to keep them well clothed, well fed, and clean of body and mind.
I am fighting for that big stone church with its tall stained-glass windows, its big organ with the magnificent tone, its choir, its people who were always so glad to see us. I am fighting for that big brick schoolhouse, that fine old college with all its tradition and its ivy-covered walls, my room at home with all the books, that radio in the living room, that little black cocker spaniel with his big bright eyes and his funny walk.
I am fighting for that little sister of mine, the one in the eighth grade, the one who shed so many tears when her brothers went marching off to war.
I am fighting for my home and your home, my town and your town. I am fighting for New York and Chicago and Los Angeles and Greensboro and Hickory Flat and Junction City. And, above all, I am fighting for Washington. I am fighting for those two houses of Congress, for that dignified and magnificent Supreme Court, for that President who has led us so brilliantly through these trying years, and for the man who succeeds him.
I am fighting for everything that America stands for. I am fighting for the rights of the poor and the rights of the rich. I am fighting for the right of the American people to choose their own leaders, to live their own lives, to pursue their own careers, to save their money if they like or to spend their money if they like.
I am fighting for that freedom that so few of us seemed to realize we had before the war struck at us. I am fighting for that American belief in equality, in justice, and in an Almighty God.
We cannot lose.
—Sgt. Thomas N. Pappas, “What I Am Fighting For”, July 10, 1943
This article is featured in the May/June 2019 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.
Featured image: Norman Rockwell’s Freedom from Fear.
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