Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Roland B. Gittelsohn, fully Roland Bertram Gittelsohn

American Rabbi and first Jewish Marine Corp Chaplain during the battle of Iwo Jima

"Man was meant to realize the divine potential within him. He misses the mark when he fails to do so. He has attained salvation when he achieves his full spiritual potential as a human being, created in the image of God."

"This is the grimmest, and surely the holiest task we have faced since D–day. Here before us lie the bodies of comrades and friends. Men who until yesterday or last week laughed with us, joked with us, trained with us. Men who were on the same ships with us, and went over the side with us as we prepared to hit the beaches of this island.It is not easy to do so,” He continued. Some of us have buried our closest friends here. We saw these men killed before our very eyes. Any one of us might have died in their place. Indeed some of us are alive and breathing at this very monent only because men who lie here beneath us had the courage and strength to give their lives for ours. To speak in memory of men such as these is not easy . . . No, our poor power of speech can add nothing to what these men and the other dead of our Division who are not here have already done. All we can even hope to do is follow their example. To show the same selfless courage in peace as they did in war. To swear by the grace of God and the stubborn strength and power of human will, their sons and ours will never suffer these pains again. These men have done their job well. They have paid the ghastly price of freedom. . . . “We dedicate ourselves, first, to live together in peace the way they fought and are buried in this war. Here lie men who loved America because their ancestors generations ago helped in her founding and other men who loved her with equal passion because they themselves or their own fathers escaped from oppression to her blessed shores. Here lie officers and men, Negroes and whites, rich men and poor--- together . . . . Theirs is the highest and purest democracy. Any man among us, the living, who fails to understand that will thereby betray those who lie here dead. Whoever of us lifts his hand in hate against a brother . . . . makes of this ceremony and of the bloody sacrifice it commemorates an empty, hollow mockery. To one thing more do we consecrate ourselves in memory of those who sleep beneath these crosses and stars. We shall not foolishly suppose, as did the last generation of America’s fighting men, that victory on the battlefield will automatically guarantee the triumph of Democracy at home. This war with all its frightful heartache and suffering, is but the beginning of our generations struggle for democracy . . . . Thus do we memorialize those who, have ceased living with us, now live within us. Thus do we consecrate ourselves, the living, to carry on the struggle they began. Too much pain and heartache have fertilized the earth on which we stand. We here solemnly swear: This shall not be in vain! Out of this, and from the suffering and sorrow of those who mourn this, will come—we promise – the birth of a new freedom for the sons of men everywhere."

"I think there is a form of spiritual as well as clinical schizophrenia abroad in the land. I find it when I see men who check their reason and all empirical evidence when they enter a church or synagogue, and I find it in men who forget everything they have learned about faith when they enter a laboratory or a physician’s office. I think they are almost equally derelict in their approach to the human being."

"A Litany of Remembrance - In the rising of the sun and in its going down, We remember them. In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter, We remember them. In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring, We remember them. In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer, We remember them. In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn, We remember them. In the beginning of the year and when it ends, We remember them. When we are weary and in need of strength, We remember them. When we are lost and sick at heart, We remember them. When we have joys we yearn to share, We remember them. So long as we live, they too will live, For they are a part of all who have known them. We remember them."

"Here lie men who loved America because their ancestors generations ago helped in her founding. And other men who loved her with equal passion because they themselves or their own fathers escaped from oppression to her blessed shores. Here lie officers and men, Negroes and Whites, rich men and poor, together. Here are Protestants, Catholics, and Jews together. Here no man prefers another because of his faith or despises him because of his color. Here there are no quotas of how many from each group are admitted or allowed. Among these men there is no discrimination. No prejudices. No hatred. Theirs is the highest and purest democracy... Whosoever of us lifts his hand in hate against a brother, or who thinks himself superior to those who happen to be in the minority, makes of this ceremony and the bloody sacrifice it commemorates, an empty, hollow mockery. To this then, as our solemn sacred duty, do we the living now dedicate ourselves: To the right of Protestants, Catholics, and Jews, of White men and Negroes alike, to enjoy the democracy for which all of them have here paid the price... We here solemnly swear this shall not be in vain. Out of this and from the suffering and sorrow of those who mourn this, will come, we promise, the birth of a new freedom for the sons of men everywhere."

"King David was not allowed to build the Temple in Jerusalem because he had been a man of war; the privilege of constructing the Temple was reserved for his son Solomom, whose very name is derived from shalom (peace)."