Thursday, November 26, 2009

And the Fair Land

Yesterday The Wall Street Journal ran an editorial titled “And the Fair Land.” It was written in 1961 by Vermont Royster (pictured), who was editorial page editor from 1958 to 1971. The Journal has run this editorial annually since 1961.

The prose is elevated but not stuffy. It is stirring but not sentimental. It is forthright and clear.*

Today, the editors of major newspapers cannot write clear, forthright, stirring prose. But I am thankful that Vermont Royster and some of his contemporaries could and did.

The editorial begins:

Any one whose labors take him into the far reaches of the country, as ours lately have done, is bound to mark how the years have made the land grow fruitful.

This is indeed a big country, a rich country. . .

And continues:

And a traveler cannot but be struck on his journey by the thought that this country, one day, can be even greater. . . .

So the visitor returns thankful for much of what he has seen, and, in spite of everything, an optimist about what his country might be. . . .

And ends:

But we can all remind ourselves that the richness of this country was not born in the resources of the earth, though they be plentiful, but in the men that took its measure. For that reminder is everywhere – in the cities, towns, farms, roads, factories, homes, hospitals, schools that spread everywhere over that wilderness.

We can remind ourselves that for all our social discord we yet remain the longest enduring society of free men governing themselves without benefit of kings or dictators. Being so, we are the marvel and the mystery of the world, for that enduring liberty is no less a blessing than the abundance of the earth.

And we might remind ourselves also, that if those men setting out from Delftshaven had been daunted by the troubles they saw around them, then we could not this autumn be thankful for a fair land.


I wish my countrymen a happy Thanksgiving.

*I selected this sample for its diction, not for its content. On this blog, I am promoting no political position – unless you consider clarity a political position.

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