The lesson I learned from Vietnam was not a lesson in theory but a lesson in practice. Observing this nation go through its worst historical hour from a vantage on the other side of the barricade, I came to understand that democratic values are easily lost and, from the evidence of the past, only rarely achieved, that America is a precious gift, a unique presence in the world of nations. Because it is the strongest of the handful of democratic societies that mankind has managed to create, it is also a fortress that stands between the free nations of the world and the dark, totalitarian forces that threaten to engulf them.
My values have not changed, but my sense of what supports and makes them possible has. I no longer can join “anti-war” movements that seek to disarm the Western democracies in the face of the danger that confronts them. I support the current efforts of America’s leadership to rebuild our dangerously weakened military defenses, and I endorse the conservative argument that America needs to be vigilant, strong, and clear of purpose in its life-and-death struggle with its global totalitarian adversaries. As an ex-radical, I would only add that in this struggle Americans need to respect and encourage their own generosity—their tolerance for internal dissent and their willingness to come to the aid of people who are fighting for their freedom.
— “My Vietnam Lessons,” from a speech given in 1985, reprinted in Left Illusions
If you have a favorite Horowitz quote you want to highlight for others then click here to submit. Please include:
- “Horowitz Quote of the Day” in subject line.
- A link to where the quote is from. (No need to include this if it’s from a book.)
- Any remarks you’d like published explaining what value you take from it.
- Your preferred name and a link to your blog or homepage (if you have one.)