San Francisco is the place where “The United Nations Conference on International Organization” is being held. This meeting makes the news today. With Germany in her death throes, delegates of 46 nations of the world, representing four-fifths of the world’s population and nine-tenths of the land area of the world, are met here to erect a structure for international security. The world’s power and strength are represented in San Francisco.
The purpose of this meeting should be clear to you. This is not a peace-making conference, but rather a peace-keeping one. It will not deal at all with the defeated Germany; her punishment or boundaries: that problem will be left to the victors after the war is over. The chief problem here is future security, including, of course, plans to prevent future wars. That is not all for this organization aims to set up plans to solve international problems, such as industrial, social, food, health, educational, and all related problems that need attention for peace and progress the world over. It has been said that two-thirds of the people in the world never had enough to eat, about half of the adults in the world cannot read and write, factories in general are still sweatshops. This conference is to set up organization to solve such problems. That is its purpose.
Machinery of the Plan
Young people should be familiar with the set-up of the Dumbarton Oaks proposed plan. Remember this conference is working on the Dumbarton Oaks proposals and naturally will make many amendments. The machinery follows these definite forms: the United Nations will consist of three main branches and the Secretariat. First there is the General Assembly which will include all the “peace-loving” nations—eventually may even include Germany and Japan. The Assembly meets once a year to discuss problems of relief, air routes, trade, etc., and under it will be associated many agencies as Economical and Social Council, Labor Council, Food Organization, Health Agency, Monetary Council. Second there will be the International Court which will deal only with international laws. The third branch is the Security Council—the real power house. It proposes to have eleven members: five permanent (the U.S., Great Britain, Russia, China, France) and six rotating members; the latter members are elected by the Assembly for a two term period. Hence the Council has the Big Five and six small nations. It will be in session the year around. This body can make decisions and even call upon military forces to put down threat of war. In case of trouble the Council may investigate and make recommendations providing seven out of the eleven are in favor of it. But it is a different case when it comes to enforcing; the Big Five must vote alike before any action can be taken. Even if ten of the eleven are in favor of it, one of the Big Five can block an action. No force can be applied to small countries if one of the five is not in favor of so doing. The Big Five must stick together in order to enforce a decision. A military staff is to be associated with the Security Council. A fourth branch is the Secretariat, the function of which you can conclude from its name.
Forty-six nations are met to reach objectives under such machinery. Problems are easily seen. Where does the small nation come in? The Big Five will have dictatorship for they can control, prevent, or veto any step; even if the whole world be against one member of the Big Five, that member can protect itself by veto power. Will the small nations be able to safeguard their interests in this set-up? Look what happened to Poland just recently. Russia did it and that ends it. What can the small nations do? Can they rely on Senator Vanden Berg’s idea of “justice” to be done always? This voting in the Council and the place of small nations seem to be the big thorn to be threshed out.
Another problem is the demand of Russia to have three votes in the Assembly. The original plan calls for only one vote for each. This was announced after the Yalta Conference and F.D.R. seems to have given Russia the green light on it. Russia evidently figures that the British Dominions all count up and Russia will add a vote each for her Ukraine and White Russia. Why she should want two more votes in that large Assembly of fifty or more, we do not know; probably no more than mere demand for diplomatic recognition.
How shall the Colonies be handled after the war? The idea of trusteeship has been suggested. Shall the U.S. be trustee over the Japanese islands (the Marianas, Marshall, Caroline, etc.) or shall a strong power control over a dependent area and report to the United Nations regularly? How can that be worked out?
Finally there is the problem of alliances. Shall we have them? It is said that it is possible but they must be under strict supervision of the United Nations. Shall the Wilsonian idea of open alliances be practiced?
The Last Step
The whole plan will be drawn up into a treaty or an agreement. Then what? Stalin, or one appointed by him, needs only to affix his signature and it goes into operation. Churchill can do the same; it is not necessary for Parliament to pass on the document. The heads of other nations represented at the Conference need only to do the same—sign. But it is different for the U.S. This agreement or document must be ratified or approved by a two-thirds vote in the Senate.
To Our Boys In Service
Winter with all its cold, ice, and snow is gone and spring has come again. The lawns are already covered with a nice green blanket of grass, and many a fruit tree is in full blossom. A wonderful sight, but also in this does God prove His might and glory. But are we always conscious of this? And not only of His great power and glory but also of His love towards His children? How often He seems to be so far away from us—like you who are far away from home, parents, brothers and sisters, yes, all those who are dear to you! Far away from church, among strangers who do not know or do not want to know about God nor His Word and who despise the things you hold dear. Led in a way that is hard and may seem unjust. Yet, let us remember, He Who leads the destiny of nations, also has laid the pathway which we must tread. But the most blessed of it all is that the Lord Who has marked out this pathway for you says, “that all things work together for good to them that love God.” But life’s pathway is so much harder than it was a few years ago! I agree with you. Years ago any one could be a Christian and no one would molest you. But times have changed and more and more this fact has come to the foreground. One must deny our Lord and have peace with the world or confess Him to be God alone and be persecuted and mocked. But may God give grace and strength to be faithful to the end whatever the cost may be. And thou shalt have joy and peace in your hearts which passes all understanding. May the Lord bless and keep you.
Your brother in Christ,
Mr. Ben Veldkamp
Somewhere in France
Just a few days ago I received three copies of Beacon Lights. I wish I could convey to you just how much this meant to me. Like a starving man wolfs his food, so I devoured the contents of all three numbers at once.
Let me briefly sketch my activities since leaving the hospital in England on December 11 of last year. Spiritually there were many privileges which I enjoyed in England. I conducted a few midweek meetings at the hospital chapel and gave a chalk talk. Also worshipped in some of the churches in nearby cities and met some Christian fellow patients with whom I had many pleasant conversations. After leaving the hospital I was shunted about England for a while—thru various replacement depots and finally across the channel for the third time and back to France. Along with many other fellow soldiers I made the icing, slow, cold journey from Le Havre to Paris—thirty of us in one of those famous 40 and 8s of World War I fame. Christmas even was spent in the freight yards of Paris, and Christmas night we slept on the hard frozen ground in a woods. New Year’s eve and day was spent in a former German armory, the walls being adorned with swastikas and a huge banner on the wall contained the following statement in German: “To the German soldier nothing is impossible.” On the 2nd of January, I arrived at this outfit—my new army “home.”
We are living in a small rural village; the people here speak German and all of them wear wooden shoes. On Sundays they come out in their finest to attend the 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. services in the local Roman Catholic Church. I originally drove a 2 1/2 ton truck hauling gas, ammunition, etc. but my nerves were not equal to this. I now have a steady job in the kitchen which is much better for me. Our kitchen is housed in the village school. There are many interesting things I could say about the life here—but I do not want to take up too much space. Now to come back to my opening statement about how much Beacon Lights means to me.
You see I am required to work 7 days a week and so there is no opportunity to observe the Sabbath. Besides this there is no place to worship if I did have the time, and finally, I have not found a single Christian fellow although I’ve been here nearly two months now. Spiritually therefore it is a lonely life, hence any Christian literature means so much to me. I hold a sort of a service by myself, reading one of the Lord’s Days and follow it with the reading of one of Rev. Hoeksema’s explanations in the Standard Bearer, and I also sing a few Psalter numbers to myself, but one cannot realize how much Christian fellowship means until it is denied us as at present. Yet the Lord is faithful and I can testify of His grace and nearness, and with Paul I am learning by His grace, to be content in whatsoever state I am. I have not written these things, dear friends, to evoke pity, but that you may see how great a privilege is yours, who can worship with God’s people on the Sabbath and meet during the week in Christian fellowship to learn to know Him better Who is the author and finisher of our faith. Avail yourselves of every opportunity to grow in the knowledge of Christ for it is then that we build up ourselves spiritually for times of dearth as I now am experiencing. And so in closing may God richly bless you all and may you continue to present the Protestant Reformed truth in Beacon Lights, for it means so much to us who are away.
With Christian greetings,
Since the war began, letters from all over the world have appeared—on the pages of our magazine and now I would like to throw one in from Panama. As you know, the government has a great interest in this part of Central America because of the Canal. A few months ago I found myself flying over the Caribbean Sea and shortly thereafter I was made a part of Uncle Sam’s defense forces here.
One of the most interesting things about this area is the mixture of races which is found here. You can almost trace the history which has taken place in this section by observing the people. The basic population was once Indian, but today only one variety of pure bred Indian remains. This is the San Blas Indian located on the nearby San Blas Islands. The purity of this race is strictly guarded and so much intra-marriage has taken place that a relatively large percentage of the children are albinos.
Most of the other Indians have long ago intermarried with the Spaniards who first took this country away from them. The Panamanian is then a mixture of white and red bloods. There are some real Spaniards left, but the number is small. When the canal was built, negroes and orientals were imported as cheap laborers. Today many of the children and younger people have both negro and oriental blood in their veins as well as Indian and Spanish, while the older people are pure negro, oriental, or a mixture of Spanish and Indian.
Since this area is only about nine degrees north of the equator, the vegetation and wild life is strictly tropical. There are many coconut palms and banana trees and all the growth is luxuriant. The warm weather and heavy precipitation of the rainy season which, by the way, runs from May to December, largely accounts for the thick vegetation. There are many birds of bright color, but although you can always hear them, they are hard to find. The jungle is full of iguanas, wild pigs, deer and other creatures. Two very common snakes found here are bushmasters and boa constrictors. Just as a matter of interest, my roomie has found a little honey bear who is fast becoming a real pet.
This just about completes my contribution from Panama. I might add that the beauty and interest which can be found here make but a poor substitute for home.
Ens. Herman Hoeksema (Fuller)
It has long been in my mind to write a letter in appreciation for the many issues of the Beacon Lights that I have received, but somehow, and probably typical of most other boys in the service, I always keep putting my writing off. However, in my recent reading, I saw that some of the boys have found a bit of time to send in a word of thanks, so I thought possibly I should do likewise, and this time without delay.
This past week I just received two issues of the Beacon Lights. Mail of this nature sometimes takes very long in getting to us. Nevertheless, in spite of the fact it may take such a long time in getting here, the contents never become stale as would an ordinary newspaper. Therein lies its great treasure to us boys who receive them. In the October issue, I enjoyed particularly the article written by the editor entitled “Don’t Do It.” Yes, it takes a long absence to actually realize what a great privilege it is to be able to attend the regular meetings from week to week. Then the “picture page” of the various boys is also an added attraction which I enjoyed very much. Not only that, but to me, each and every page has a great value of its own, which makes it such a grand publication. And I am sure all the other boys must enjoy it just as much as I do. A word of praise to all those who put forth their efforts to make the Beacon Lights the paper that it is!
It’s been approximately 20 months since I left the states, which is not too long. Most of this time was spent in the United Kingdom, and the greatest share of that in the small country of North Ireland. During all this time I have met but one of our boys, and incidentally, one of my best friends, Joe Gritter. That was almost a year ago when I spent a short furlough in London and was very fortunate in being able to locate him. We certainly were overjoyed in meeting each other, and those three days we spent together went by all too fast.
It was early last July when we came up the beaches in Normandy and have been on the continent in various places since that time. During the campaign thru France I had a couple of experiences of what might be called “being at the point” in a spearhead. However it was not so bad back in those days, but the most enjoyable thing of it all was the fact that we were always amongst the first to enter a town to receive the welcome. Those are but the nicest experiences. Other things are not so pleasant. I have seen war and its effects and can only say it is a bitter experience, as any fellow would say who has tasted some of it. To see the wounded and the dead, to see the trail of destruction in some places, and to see the misery it all causes, are things which will be hard to forget.
Due to conditions at the present time, we are forbidden to reveal our present location. From our earliest days thru France we came thru the cities of St. Lo, Angers, Chartres, Rhiems, Verdun and finally in the mighty fortress city of Metz, where our outfit spent Thanksgiving Day. For now I cannot say more.
Once again the holiday seasons have gone by. They were very uneventful as far as life goes on around here. I was hoping to be able to go to church services on Christmas Day, but there were no services. A week previous to Christmas was the last time I had opportunity to attend church and we made that service a Christmas service. To you it probably would look strange. Not a church building, but an old theatre. Not a group of nicely dressed boys, but boys in battle dress carrying their weapons into church with them. We sang many an old Christmas carol, “Peace on earth, good will toward men,” while outside the guns were throwing shells of destruction into the enemy lines. Sounds strange, doesn’t it?
The weather during recent weeks, has been similar to our own Michigan weather, although lacking in the great amount of snow. The ground is frozen hard and solid, the fields and forests are covered with a light blanket of snow, which all paints a pretty picture, but not quite so nice to the soldier who must live in it. Fortunately most of the time we are able to sleep under cover, even though at times it may be in some old house, a barn or a cellar, but at least it keeps away the worst of the weather.
Before closing this letter, I might add that last evening I received several copies of the radio sermons. It certainly would seem so much more pleasant for us boys if we could actually sit at home and listen to them, but for the present we must be content with reading. Even at that, they are very much appreciated as are all the rest of the papers. Without them, I think our church life would seem very far from us. Once again, many thanks to all those who make it possible for us to receive our papers. In closing, may God’s blessing rest upon you and all the work being put forth and hoping also if it may be His will, that some day in the near future, we all may be brought together again as in former days.
As ever, your friend,
George Kunz (Creston)
Hello from Washington! My husband and I are stationed in Tacoma, Washington and have been here for nearly eight months now. A long time to stay at one place considering how much the boys in service are transferred from camp to camp.
I am working at the Fort Hospital and this surely is a large place. Yes, this hospital covers 85 acres and contains 2,000 beds so you can get some idea of how large this general hospital is. The boys from the Fort are treated here and now the boys are coming from overseas and I surely have learned a lot since working here. I type up the diagnosis of the boys after they leave the hospital, but very seldom do I come across a Grand Rapids boy.
Enclosed is a contribution to Beacon Lights, which we surely enjoy. One thing by being in the States, this type of literature comes regularly and seeing we do not have our reformed church in Washington, this reading material is of much value. Regularly we receive the radio sermons, Standard Bearer, and Beacon Lights. A word of thanks from both of us!
Cpl. & Mrs. Wm. Kamps (Creston )
Somewhere in France
It is sort of hard for me to start this letter. It isn’t because I don’t want to write, but because that in my two years of army service I have never written you before and I am ashamed of it. I surely hope I can improve that score in the future. Beacon Lights has always followed me wherever I have been. During the past 13 months that I have been overseas, I have never missed a copy and I want you and all the readers to know that your efforts to make Beacon Lights the magazine it is are really and truly appreciated by those of us who are in the service. It was through Beacon Lights that I found out that Wm. Koster of Roosevelt Park was in the same battalion I am although he is in a different battery. We met in Africa and since then we have spent many happy hours together both in Africa and England. We would arrange to meet at every opportunity and I’m sure we both enjoyed them. Needless to say our conversation was always about the same topics: home, church and loved ones. Since we came to France it has not been possible for us to get together, at least not yet, although I surely hope to. Let me say that Beacon Lights and our other church magazines and papers do mean much to us and do help to bridge those thousands of miles between us. May God bless you and give you strength to continue your work.
Yours in Christ,
Cpl. Jacob Regnerus (Oskaloosa)
England, February, 1945
I received the January copy of Beacon. Lights and was very glad to get it. I have been at this rehabilitation center for some weeks now, and expect very shortly to be heading back up. Everything seems to be going pretty well at this end of the line.
Well, I will close for now, hoping everything is fine back home.
John P. Hazenberg (Fuller)